Messi is tired of being Barcelona's scapegoat

Alejandro Panfil @AlePanfil

“The truth is that I’m a little tired of always being the problem for everything at the club”, exploded Leo Messi once again after arriving at El Prat in Barcelona early this week.

The whole world remembers that August 25 when Messi sent the famous burofax to FC Barcelona activating a controversial clause in his contract that would allow him to leave. During a long week the soccer world held its breath until, finally, Leo was left with no choice: he had to stay. But that was not going to be the end of the troublesome waters that were rocking the club’s boat. In these last couple of months, Luis Suárez was thrown out, Bartomeu resigned, a provisional board took over and the team is eighth in the league -nine points behind the leader.

It is safe to say that Messi was looking forward to spending time with the Argentina National Team but, when he returned to Spain after beating Peru, he was received at the airport, still on his private plane, by five customs officers asking the passengers and crew for documentation. After one-hour processing information, Messi was asked to pay for taxes immediately. As a consequence, the mood of the soccer player was not at its best when he was finally approached by the Spanish press asking about his response to what a former manager of Antoine Griezmann had said.

Eric Olhats, whose professional relation to Griezmann ended in 2017, accused Messi and his “reign of terror” of making it difficult for the French player to adapt to Barça since his arrival a year ago. Really? Yes, really.

It seems nobody can have it all. Not even Lionel Messi.

The contrast of the Spanish “soap opera” with the current situation of Argentina NT and its love affair with its captain is self-evident. But, obviously, it hasn’t always been like this. 

After the final whistle at the Maracaná Stadium, on July 13, 2014, Lionel Messi realized that it would be very difficult to have a similar chance to raise a FIFA World Cup with Argentina. To be fair, the Albiceleste played a correct game in its first WC final in 24 years but, even though it was really close to score, Germany was more effective. Whether he deserved it or not, it is not relevant anymore because it doesn’t change the result: 0-1. 

Nevertheless, it was not difficult to see that Argentina NT was back on the right track after many years of frustration and disillusion, and that if it kept working as they had, it was a matter of time to achieve this ultimate goal. But, actually, Argentinean soccer had to face, on July 30 of that same year, the death of Julio Grondona, who had been the president of the AFA (the Argentine Soccer Association) for 35 years. As a result of his passing, challenging conflicts of interests arose and the members of AFA performed the “democratic stunt” of the century: 75 people voted for a new President of AFA and the result was 38-38. The institution, on the brink of government intervention, accepted a “normalizing commission” appointed by FIFA, that was not able to cope with the situation. In the meantime, Claudio “Chiqui” Tapia built a little power and support, took advantage of the chaotic situation and became the new president of Argentinean soccer in 2017. Unluckily, instead of a new era, the current president of AFA, re-elected in 2020, has proven to be a mere continuation of the chaos that founded his presidency.

Needless to say, the organization of the National team during that period was as chaotic. The team had three different coaches -Gerardo Martino, Edgardo Bauza and Jorge Sampaoli- on the way to the World Cup Russia 2018 and suffered two more defeats in finals, both for Copa America and both against Chile. It was more than Messi could take and, after the second fall, having missed a penalty kick in the definition, Leo said, with a clear intention of venting his momentary frustration, he was resigning from the National Team.

29-year-old soccer player declared to the Argentine network TyC Sports that "the national team is over for me. It's been four finals; it's not meant for me. I tried. It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn't get it, so I think it's over", in the mixed zone of the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. 

The truth is Messi was not resigning, he was asking for a better environment to continue coming to the National Team. The message was for the people in charge of the AFA, and it’s clear that the better environment never arrived and his love for the jersey was stronger since two months later he was back, in the home-winning 1-0 with his goal against Uruguay for the World Cup Qualifiers. 

Messi continued traveling to Argentina to wear his colors light blue and white. Despite the resounding failure in Russia 2018, Messi kept going, even though the authorities took a long time to decide that the interim and inexperienced coach, Lionel Scaloni, was to be confirmed to lead a team with so much weight, history and that, for those same reasons, carries enormous pressure. 

Nevertheless, in the present Leo Messi looks happy and motivated in Argentina despite the fact that he hasn’t won a single title in 15 years with the team. To crown that happiness, Messi became the player with more victories in the national team (85) leaving behind Javier Mascherano. In addition, he reached Javier Zanetti as the second player with the most appearances (142) in the National Team. Now he is only five games away from beating Javier Mascherano and being the player who played the most for the National Team. 

Despite the happy-color with which the Spanish press is trying to paint this forced continuity of Messi in Barcelona after his request to leave last August, it seems to be increasingly clear that Leo enjoys his trips to Argentina much more than his hours at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper, and he can no longer stay there.

Meanwhile, January is getting closer and Pep Guardiola has just renewed with Manchester City until 2023…

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