For years, we’ve looked at the transfer market with frustrated awe, wondering if there will ever be a secret decoder ring that allows us to decipher truth from fiction. Then, Instagram came along:
Well, shit. Why didn’t we think of that before? Is Cristiano Ronaldo coming to MLS? Let’s check Instagram. When will Arturo Vidal ever move? Hit up IG. Is Gareth Bale truly destined for Manchester United? Instagram, losers.
Messi also follows Barcelona on Instagram, as well as Manchester City. As for Thibaut Courtois and Filipe Luis, who knows? I only keep track of Young Leo’s friends. Kids these days are always meeting new people. I can’t keep up.
The idea of Messi moving to Chelsea has progressed too far to be dismissed out of hand, but given all the tales of backroom dissent and internal disagreement we hear from Camp Nou, the Instagram update is small potatoes. What’s more likely: Messi is sending a covert message to the world, petulantly hinting at a move he plans to engineer this summer, or a player just wanting to see when his friend Francisco’s new team posts a picture of him? Neither are impossible, as is the possibility that Messi doesn’t even control his own account. That’s the most likely scenario.
Besides, there’s other, thicker fodder for our Messi paranoia. Take the comments from former Barcelona great Hristo Stoichkov, who alluded to a pattern with Barça’s non-Catalan players.
“They have not known how to look after Messi,” Stoichkov told radio show Al Primer Toque (as posted by ESPNFC). “Tell me any foreign player who has not ended up leaving Barca through the back door.”
Luis Figo? Okay, maybe that’s too soon, but we take your point, Hristo. Maybe we should ignore the Johan Cruyffs of the world and concentrate on Barcelona in the now. And in that now, Barcelona, a club that’s become a symbol of Catalan pride, might be slightly more deferential to Catalan players. Who knew?
How that influences Messi is uncertain. The guy’s practically an honorary Catalan, having arrived as La Masia early in his adolescence. But perhaps, when push comes to shove, you’re either Catalonian or you’re not. If you’re unhappy with the team, maybe you’re not as precious as Xavi, Iniesta, or Puyol. Important sidenote: Puyol left the club yesterday.
Regardless, Stoichkov, who knows a thing or two about Barcelona, is insistent the club is in the wrong, with blame starting at the top of the club.
“For me [Josep Maria] Bartomeu is not a president; he is a civil servant,” Stoichkov told Al Premier Toque, on the same day the Barcelona president dissolved the contract of former director of football Andoni Zubizarreta. “He was parachuted into the job because a coward [previous president Sandro Rosell] left. The only thing he understands is basketball; he knows little about football.”
Nothing says level-headed analysis like calling another man a coward, but there may still be something we can take away from Stoichkov’s comments. For years there have been rumors of Messi’s dissatisfaction with Barcelona. That discontent fueled last year’s rumors linking the star with Chelsea and Manchester City. “Coward” may be strong, but Stoichkov may be right about an implication: Things haven’t been the same since Joan Laporta (former president) and Tkixi Begiristain (former director of football) led the club.
Perhaps now, with Messi bickering with Luis Enrique and the club’s technical side in chaos, it’s time for the unimaginable. Maybe it’s time for us to see a world where Messi doesn’t play for Barcelona. Given how long the player’s toyed with the idea, Barcelona would be justified in moving on.