Messi is an extravagance which Barça can no longer afford

Messi is starting to test the patience of many of his most loyal followers. Even the departure of Bartomeu, with whom he felt some resentment, hasn’t appeased his mood. He had the chance to redeem the president but didn’t take it. Bartomeu’s fate was sealed by a referendum which had been actively encouraged by club members. The motion was, in many ways, a pro-Messi and anti-Bartomeu referendum, at least that was how the president viewed it and why he stepped down before a vote of no confidence could be passed. But Messi is still angry. It’s as though some of those grievances are still simmering. For a brief moment it seemed like his mood had lifted but now he is back looking crestfallen and sulky – now it’s nothing to do with Bartomeu, so maybe because of something Griezmann’s uncle said, or because of the taxman, or perhaps he feels sad every time he sees Luis Suárez’s empty house next door.

Messi's mood affecting everyone else

The thing is that Barça have taken just 11 points from a possible 24, and Messi’s gloom has spread throughout the squad. The player who once instigated practically each and every one of Barça’s attacking moves is now a sad figure whose soul is dragging him down – the more he tries, the more he fails. The image of a glum Leo Messi, resigned and beaten following the team’s European disappointments, is now a common site. For Koeman, it would be unthinkable to drop him or relegate him to the subs’ bench – which is why he continues to drag him along like some kind of convict shackled with a ball and chain.

City deal comes to nothing

When this whole crisis began, there was talk about a possible operation with Manchester City – cash plus players, including Èric García - a player they could certainly do with right now. Many of those who scoffed at the idea a month ago have come to realise that maybe it wouldn’t have been such a bad move after all. Obviously, the best outcome of all would have been to have Messi back at his best and motivated but that hasn’t happened. Messi is now a costly extravagance for a club which is struggling to make ends meet – a club that is obliged to drastically reduce its budget while keeping hold of someone who could be the world’s best player but who now is just the world’s best-paid player. In the meantime, all eyes are focused on City with a mixture of apprehension and hope.