For seasons, the charming allure of the city of Barcelona enticed players to join the club as they continued the two-horse dominance in the LaLiga along with rivals Real Madrid. Cut to 2020 and Barcelona does not seem to quite retain that pull. Earlier last week, sporting director Eric Abidal drew the ire of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi. The Argentinian asked Abidal to name-call the people responsible for Ernesto Valverde’s departure. With that, the dark cloud of crisis drew over the Barcelona administration. The power politics revolving around Lionel Messi, club president Josep Bartomeu and sporting director Eric Abidal now threatens to derail the club’s season.
2 - @FCBarcelona's Lionel Messi is the second player to reach double figures for both goals (14) and assists (10) in the top five European leagues this season, after Jadon Sancho (12 & 13). Critical. pic.twitter.com/zpO8Ml8H3z— OptaJose (@OptaJose) February 9, 2020
During his 16 years in Barcelona's main team, Lionel Messi has carved out a name for himself in some fashion. In the process of being a one-club man, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner also holds a considerable amount of weight in the matters of the club. With over 600 goals to his name in Barcelona colours, Lionel Messi seems to have undoubtedly earned that privilege. An argument can be made that the jab against Eric Abidal on social media with over 142 million followers privy to his criticism represents the ever-growing power of Lionel Messi within the club.
Hours after Lionel Messi fought back against Abidal's allegations that a number of players failed to work hard enough to keep Ernesto Valverde's job safe, the sporting director was summoned to a meeting with club president Josep Bartomeu. While the meeting ultimately ended with Abidal being allowed to keep his job for the foreseeable future, the effects of the Lionel Messi fallout did not seem to stop there.
The Barcelona mainstay is reportedly unhappy with the club's falling standards, with Barcelona failing to secure a signing to replace the injured Luis Suarez. Ousmane Dembele is also likely to miss the rest of the season, which thins Barcelona's resources in attack. There have also been reports that Lionel Messi could be swayed to make a move to England. Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are emerging as the frontrunning suitors. Were he to depart the club, Lionel Messi would free up close to 40% of finances on Barcelona's payroll, according to a Football Leaks document. The document states that salary payments made to Lionel Messi amount to 40% of the club's payroll. This disparity in salary could, in theory, prompt another Lionel Messi fallout with the club in the near future.
10 players have provided a hat-trick of assists in Europe's top five leagues this season:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 9, 2020
🎩 Marcel Sabitzer
🎩 Lorenzo Pellegrini
🎩 Islam Slimani
🎩 Lys Mousset
🎩 Timo Werner
🎩 Radja Nainggolan
🎩 Florian Niederlechner
🎩 Luis Suárez
🎩 Roberto Firmino
🎩 Lionel Messi 🆕 pic.twitter.com/X0O6cg1kUE
Messi's current deal runs till the end of next season. However, a clause in his contract reportedly allows him to leave as a free agent this summer. It is reasonable to think that Bartomeu and co. could, in theory, add more numbers to the Lionel Messi wages section. If such a situation were to transpire, where does that leave Barcelona with high-earning stars like Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Gerard Pique also having a number of years left on their contracts?