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Jordi Évole began his eagerly awaited interview with Leo Messi by warning that previous encounters he had with people he very much admired did not always go well. It was a sincere statement. To all intents and purposes an exercise in hand-washing. Even so, what we saw was a character portrait, Messi as one would imagine him. The Barcelona captain is not someone who will hold forth on politics or the fickle nature of mortality, but he will talk about more important things like family or how he spends his free time. And football, which was unfortunately not covered in greater depth. It was a shame he didn’t expand further on Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, or how being beaten 8-2 by Bayern Munich was possible.

Otherwise, the primary intrigue remained unresolved: will Messi remain at Barça? It is believed he will return to Barcelona at a later juncture, possibly as sporting director, after a spell in MLS that will likely occur when he feels he is no longer able to play to the peak of his abilities in Europe. But whether he will see out this stage of his career at Barça or seek a new challenge at PSG or Manchester City remains in the air. He also failed to explain exactly how Josep Maria Bartomeu had tricked him, or why the release clause was included in his contract in the first place, and why it wasn’t applied when he asked to leave the club and if he tried to activate it when the date in question had expired.

Messi absent for Eibar game

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In any case, Messi made sincere declarations of affection to the institution of FC Barcelona. His chagrin it was inferred was limited to the presence of Bartomeu, who has now departed and Messi chose not to rake over the coals of the former president’s tenure. He also wisely and politely declined to offer any preference as to Bartomeu’s successor. He did though back Ronald Koeman. Additionally, while falling short of promising he would stay, he offered a calming message to the Barcelona supporters who still adore him that he is now happy again at the club. It was a shame for those same supporters that it was announced on the same day that he would not be playing against Eibar after being granted an extended Christmas holiday, a big absence for Koeman.