It feels like I wrote my previous Barcelona post over a year ago but it was only February. Right when I was trying to get back in, Covid hit and then the resulting restart of the season reared up with all the same problems and reminded me why I’d drifted away. A team and club going through the motions, content to lean on their superstar and milk the resulting cash cow.
Normally I’d feel upset about my team’s best player wanting out. Not at the player himself but at the fact that he’s leaving. In this case, in addition to believing that Messi can ask for whatever he wants, I’m finding myself feeling relieved that he feels as disgusted with the club as I do.
I want him to go. Even though it will damage the team. Even though he’s brought an immeasurable amount of joy to my soccer fandom over the past fifteen years.
This isn’t like Xavi or Iniesta where it was time for them to go and their leaving hurt because it recognized that they were no longer the players they used to be. That’s an expected part of being a fan. Players get old and the game moves on. It sucks and it hurts but it’s inevitable.
Messi though is different. He’s got a couple more years in the tank and the only reason he’s leaving is because the club itself has mismanaged things so badly. I’ve drifted away enough already that I’m hoping for a monumental house cleaning to reignite my fandom. I can only hope that he wants the same.
Of course there’s a possibility he’ll be there next season. Barcelona is digging in its heels and looks prepared to make this even worse than it’s been so far. That though would be the worst possible scenario. Messi would be miserable but more than that, it would signify that the team is still stagnating and refusing to deal with the future.
And that’s really that this is about. Messi walking away forces the club to confront the future—something it should’ve been doing for at least the past five years. I’m looking forward to seeing a new club. A young club. An interesting club playing interesting soccer again.