Leo Messi’s not going to stand idly by as crisis-riven FC Barcelona spiral inevitably towards decline, relegation, bankruptcy, dissolution and rebirth as a phoenix club called Barcelona FC, one that plays in front of 200 people on concrete painted green in a makeshift arena built from cardboard boxes and duct tape in a suburban strip mall parking lot. No, he’s going to escape to one of England’s Premier League clubs offering him the chance to get kicked in the shins by Ryan Shawcross twice yearly in the wind and rain.
Aged 27, it’s still another seven years before Messi meets the legal minimum age for a top star to move to Major League Soccer. And he doesn’t want to get ID’d trying to walk into the LA Galaxy’s training ground, because that’d be embarrassing.
But Chelsea and Manchester City would no doubt welcome him in this summer, and Spanish media have reported that the Londoners have contacted dad Jorge Messi and would be willing to pay the player’s bargain $300 million release clause. As Messi morphs from unassuming cuddly superstar into the tragic, ego-ridden Blanche DuBois of Barcelona, it must be comforting for him to know that, in his hour of need, he can always count on the kindness of strange soccer clubs.
The club claimed Messi missed Monday’s training session with a stomach illness, but there are some things Tylenol just can’t cure, like the near-total breakdown of his relationship with coach Luis Enrique, according to the Catalan press.
“Messi has more or less made it known to the board that it’s either him or me – you choose,” reports AS.
Despite still being in the Champions League and one point from the top of La Liga, and the manifest crapness of Messi’s latest tattoo, it seems the board would choose him over Enrique, whose tactics and man-management are under intense scrutiny. Director of soccer Andoni Zubizarreta has already been axed and assistant and club legend Carles Puyol resigned.
Enrique supposedly wanted to fine Messi for not turning up on Monday, but senior players persuaded him to downplay the incident. Previously the two allegedly “very nearly came to blows” because Enrique disallowed one of Messi’s goals in a training match. Oh, the disrespect, I do declare!
“I don’t have anything to regret on a personal level with any of the players …” Enrique explained this morning. “The squad is above any individuals.”
At least Messi’s not so self-important that he can’t see the funny side of being benched. Sorta.