BARCELONA

Messi and Man City: Barcelona facing the perfect storm

With Guardiola's extension, Messi's discontent and Barcelona's precarious financial situation, the Camp Nou club is facing the perfect storm in January.

Messi and Man City: the second wave will be stronger than the first
Jason Cairnduff REUTERS

Experts warn that the second wave is always stronger than the first. In the summer Storm Messi rattled Barça and left open wounds exposed. Now it seems that the perfect storm could be brewing for January during the winter transfer window, which could end with the Argentine captain leaving Barcelona midway through the season.

Pep Guardiola’s contract renewal at Manchester City until 2023 (with the option of another year) has certainly changed the outlook once again and put a dark cloud over Messi’s future at Barcelona.

The announcement of Guardiola’s new deal has coincided with reports in the UK press that City are set to launch a new offensive for the Barcelona superstar. This new offensive would reportedly not be limited to trying to sign the 33-year-old striker at the end of the season when he will be a free agent, but could involve the Premier League club looking to land the Rosario-born talisman in the winter by offering Barcelona a respectable transfer fee.

The UK press have spoken of an operation costing in the region of €50-60 million and could involve Eric García, the City central defender who is a product of Barcelona’s Masía academy. From a sporting perspective, such an operation could be viewed as a disaster for Barcelona, but the money would go some way in relieving the precarious financial situation of the Camp Nou club, which has already been warned by LaLiga that it must lower its salary bill by 43% by next season.

Messi and Guardiola together at Barcelona in 2016.

Messi’s Man City move could give Barcelona financial lifeline

Messi’s hypothetical exit would offer a financial lifeline for Barcelona and will undoubtedly be the most important decision that the club’s next president will have to make. Following the resignation of Josep Bartomeu in October, Barça is currently under the control of interim president, Carlos Tusquets, who has not been given a mandate to approve transfer operations – let alone one involving Messi. Provided there are no postponements due to the pandemic, the club’s presidential election is scheduled for 24 January, one week before the winter market closes – an election in which Guardiola, following his renewal announcement, will not be a card that any of the candidates can play.

With Guardiola’s contract extension, Barça's critical economic situation and Messi's discontent after what happened this summer, it is clear that the Blaugrana club is facing a perfect storm.

Messi-Barcelona relationship looks beyond repair

The Argentine has given everything on the pitch so far this season, but that does not change the fact that something has been broken in his relationship with the club and seems that not even the resignation of Bartomeu and his board will be the definitive glue to repair the crack.

On Wednesday evening, upon his arrival at Barcelona airport after his involvement in Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers, two tax inspectors boarded his private jet and questioned him for more than half an hour. His subsequent outrage was evident as he left the airport terminal surrounded by autograph hunters and reporters, one of whom asked him about the comments of Antoine Griezmann’s former agent, who had accused Messi of presiding over “a regime of terror” at Barcelona. "The truth is I'm a little tired of always being the problem for everything at the club,” was his response.

Sources close to Messi assure that all the information regarding the City operation have originated from England and nobody has spoken with them. Barça has not received any firm offer either. But all the elements are lining up for a perfect storm in January. City’s second wave promises to be stronger than the first.