Barcelona and Messi: moving closer to a new normality
With Lionel Messi's incorporation back into training, and the club's social media messaging getting stronger, the plan seems to be a find Barça's 'new normal'.
Barça surprised many on Wednesday when they announced that Lionel Messi would be joining the group training along with the likes of Busquets, Ansu Fati and De Jong, who had been with the Spanish and Dutch national teams respectively. This information, accompanied by a photo of Messi in the middle of the group and with exit-linked Luis Suárez on his left, is the best sign to date that the squad are returning to their own ‘new’ normality following the Argentinean’s announcement that he wanted out.
As the session continued, we watched on as Messi followed the instructions of new boss Ronald Koeman, seemingly content to be back within the fold.
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The two sides of the situation, club and player, have begun to make gestures to show a sense that they are getting closer. In the worst phase of the storm, the club announced the sale of its new kit, in which they put Messi front and centre of the marketing campaign despite his formal request to leave. Since the player confirmed that he would be staying - and putting to one side the barbed attacks on club president Josep Bartomeu - the club’s social media team have, slowly to start with, grown with their public affection for the player. After missing training for a week, an issue that the club has chosen to ignore rather than ignite more flames, Messi was the first to arrive at the Ciutat Esportiva on Monday.
Mending the cracks in the relationship is not going to be easy. It remains to be seen what Messi's relationship with Koeman will be, and the same applies to the dressing room atmosphere, where suspicion has been created after recent events. The question of the captaincy will also have to be resolved. If the focus is on normalising the situation, then the logical thing is that the six-time Ballon d'Or winner retains the armband, even though he is unlikely to be the best placed member of the squad to interact with Bartomeu. We could, however, see Messi voluntarily hand over the position for the new boss to make a decision. That in itself would be a seismic shift at Barça.
It is a strange situation but, just as with a family feud, everything may slowly begin to return to its happier place if events and actions allow. Bartomeu. Koeman, Messi, the dressing room: everyone is aware of what happened and what needs to now be done to return some sense of order. And the player has been making the right gestures since his return. The next episode, perhaps, will be Suárez's farewell, although that photo of the Uruguayan to his left yesterday has led to some changing their interpretation of how things may turn out.
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