As Leo Messi contemplates his future, it is the arch-rival club of Barca that needs to grasp hold of the situation.
By Dalipinder Singh Sandhu (Bliss)
Lionel Messi seems certain to leave Barcelona for a possible reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. It would appear that Real Madrid might be the beneficiaries if such a deal is to be completed. However, there is more to it than what meets the eye. Currently, Los Blancos carry out the post-Ronaldo redevelopment project and have an advantage against an ageing Barca side. The question resounding in the Valdebebas, as the Messi situation plays out, would be “how long will the status-quo last”?
Barcelona fans have long wanted to restore a balance of power, build a structured hierarchy, and go back to the basic ideas of their former coach, Johan Cruyff’s philosophy. The same reasons partly inspired the hiring of manager, Quique Setien in the previous season. Even the rumours of Xavi’s return as a coach and the new managerial signing of Ronald Koeman are carried out in the hope of bringing order to the club.
Earlier, the redevelopment project could not work as big names such as Messi, Suarez, and Pique had more of an influence and outweighed everyone in the club. They had set in their ways of comfort, and things could not change without their say. A sequence of events ranging from contract renewals and salary negotiations with the board, and lack of tactical discipline under Valverde, to complete defiance of Setien, all indicated towards the cracking fault lines.
Now, after a public display of lack of hunger and desire against Bayern Munich, Barcelona’s star players seemingly have considered bringing an end to their time with the Catalan club. No doubt, it would be a short term set back for the 5-time European Champions. Although, there is a silver lining to it.
Barcelona signed some of the most obnoxiously complicated contracts in the footballing world, and many of the big names drained the club’s finances with their wages. The Blaugrana could save heaps of money from wages and put it to use on rebuilding the squad. As per multiple sources in Europe, Messi earns around €100 million each year in basic salary, image rights and bonuses. According to Transfermarkt, Messi’s current value is €112 million. Thus, Barcelona could pocket that money from the transfer fee, provided Messi would be willing to let go of the ongoing dispute regarding the free-agent clauses in the contract.
Earlier this month, Gerard Pique offered to leave, and Luis Suarez is reportedly not included in Koeman’s plans. Hence, the club is close to a complete overhaul and establish a balance of power. There could also be a recoup in the management of the club as the sentiment of anger against the club president, Josep Bartomeu aggregates daily. The escalated situation may call for a preponement of presidential election that is scheduled to take place in March of next year.
Perhaps, with new leadership in the management, a pupil of Johan Cruyff on the sidelines, and balanced finances, Barcelona may be realising their objectives sooner than expected. Atop of that, the star signing, Antoinne Greizmann could finally play in his preferred and efficient position of a striker which was not possible with Messi and Suarez around. A bunch of young players fueled with hunger and desire to prove themselves could fill up the ranks and provide the much needed young blood to the team.
It is an opportunity for Real Madrid to cement their domination in LaLiga for the next decade. It would be easier to do so if they maintain and extend their lead in the redevelopment project. The Los Blancos would prefer if Barca continue with their old ways and retain Messi as that could prevent a complete restructuring which they seek. Real Madrid narrowly won LaLiga last season which required Barca to bottle their lead. Zidane’s men have yet to set up a tactical identity which would secure their winning ways without having to depend on results of other teams.
The roster of Real Madrid has evolved to include the right mix of young players who have significant experience with veteran leaders. The club has performed decently in terms of finances and is halfway through the renovation of its home stadium, Santiago Bernabeu. In these aspects, the Madrid based club eclipses the Catalan club. However, the whites are yet to establish a dominant playing side with instilled identity and disciplined tactical set-up, which would give them the ultimate headstart needed to dominate LaLiga in the next decade. Hence, Sergio Ramos and company would look forward to completing their post-Ronaldo redevelopment project before Barca start their post-Messi redevelopment project.