The football story of the summer surrounded arguably the greatest player of all time, Lionel Messi. After his disappointment with the running of the club reached boiling point, Messi decided it was time to part ways with Barcelona, and believed he could become a free agent due to a clause in his contract.
If Messi had his way, he would no longer be a Barcelona player, after making over seven hundred appearances for the Catalan giants, the only team he’s played for as a professional. However, Barcelona and their lawyers saw matters differently. They insisted the clause had expired, with Messi therefore only able to talk to clubs if they made a bid matching his substantial release clause.
Messi, 33, being the person who he is, and a man with a genuine love for the club, chose to remain with Barcelona for the final year of his contract, rather than take matters to the courts. But, he knows more than anyone that it will be a struggle to achieve success domestically and on the European stage, and this is reflected in their odds to win La Liga with bookmakers Bwin. It will likely prove to be the biggest test of Messi’s career, as he’s the talisman everyone will expect to pull Barca through games.
Barcelona came away from the 19/20 season with no silverware to speak of. Atletico Madrid beat them in the Supercopa, Athletic Bilbao were victorious in their Copa Del Rey quarter-final clash, and Real Madrid won La Liga after chalking up five more points. The Champions League was another opportunity for success, but Barcelona was left embarrassed after losing 8-2 to eventual winners Bayern Munich at Benfica’s Estadio da Luz.
Messi, as you will expect, enjoyed a fruitful season where goals and assists were concerned. From forty-four outings, the Argentinian racked up an impressive thirty-one goals and had time to weigh in with twenty-six assists as well. It takes his record at Barcelona to six hundred and thirty-four goals and two hundred and eighty-five assists in seven hundred and thirty-one games. It’s truly amazing, but he must hit the heights again in 2020/21, for the club’s sake, and his own.
Ronald Koeman has come in as manager. But Barcelona is a fading force in football when it comes to quality within their squad, as well as their spending power. Arthur has left Camp Nou to join Juventus, with Miralem Pjanic coming the other way. Luis Suarez’s future is in doubt, and there aren’t players of a similar level to replace those heading for the exit. So, the onus is on Messi to deliver the goods, while the club enters a period of uncertainty.
From a personal point of view, Messi has a reputation in football as being one of the greatest players ever, and while he has nothing to prove, he will want to show he’s still the current GOAT. The 2020/21 campaign could end up being Cristiano Ronaldo’s best chance to leave Messi in his wake once and for all.