Are Barcelona Really Trying to Force out Messi?

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2013

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 01: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on November 1, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

Barcelona have been one of Europe's most successful sides over the past few years, and a big part of the reason for that has been the world's best player during that period—Argentine forward Leo Messi.

It seems inconceivable, then, that they would actively try to offload the skilful forward—but that's what has been suggested on TalkSPORT by Graham Hunter.

Sandro Rosell is greatly involved in vanity projects, hence the signing of Neymar. My fear is that he will attempt to drive Lionel Messi out of the club and put him in a position where he can sell him, the process is moving towards that.

Messi isn’t his beauty project, while Neymar is.


The Case for Selling Messi

Is there one? Let's see. Neymar has come in and done exceptionally well in his first half-campaign in Europe, culminating in his first Champions League goals (and hat-trick) against Celtic on Wednesday.

The goals scored and created by the Brazilian has meant that Messi's continued absences through injury have not been too keenly felt.

That latter is a telling point, too. Messi-dependencia, as Barca's so called reliance on their one-man-team has been termed, has been severely tested over the past eight months or so either side of summer after a bout of niggling muscle injuries for the Argentine.

SEVILLE, SPAIN - MARCH 13:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona reacts after colliding with goalkeeper Javier Varas of Sevilla during the la Liga match between Sevilla and Barcelona at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on March 13, 2011 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Ja
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

Now in his 26th year, he should be about to enter his prime, but if Barcelona do not afford him the proper rest he needs to recover sufficiently from those muscle strains, he could easily be beset by the problems that the likes of Ronaldo suffered—a loss of acceleration and power, so crucial to their game styles.

There are also a number of talented young players such as Gerard Deulofeu, Sergi Roberto and Jean Marie Dongou ready and waiting to make the breakthrough to the Barcelona first team, as well as the established likes of Pedro, Alexis Sanchez and Neymar. 


The Madness of Selling Messi

He's the best player on the planet, so voted for each of the last four years.

That in itself would be enough to dissuade any but the most egotistical or penny-pinching of club representatives from even considering selling an asset. Sporting success leads to financial improvement; Barcelona must have become acutely aware of that over the past decade compared to the one which preceded it.

Rosell (left) with Barcelona boss Tata Martino
Rosell (left) with Barcelona boss Tata MartinoMiquel Benitez/Getty Images

Selling Messi might not be the direct end of their domestic domination and European challenge, but it would certainly significantly strengthen a rival.

There's also the commercial aspect to consider; Messi jerseys sell better than almost any other in the world.

Messi has broken almost every goalscoring record going, he's still—even with his injuries this term—scoring at a reduced rate of almost one goal per game and is absolutely, eminently, undoubtedly going to come back still capable of being a match-winner all by himself.

The report certainly suggests nothing along the likes of a January exit, more an eventual move to position Messi for sale, but even that seems incredibly unlikely at this point.

Would Barcelona fans even stand for it?


FC Barcelona sense Messi?

They existed before, they'll exist after.

When Messi does leave the club, either because of sale, injury or retirement, a new hero will inevitably step up and take his place soon after.

Maradona, Romario, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho: like Messi, none were Spanish, and all were phenomenal Barcelona players. There will be another one, and perhaps he's already there.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 11:  Neymar of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's 5th goal during the UEFA Champions League, Group H match between FC Barcelona and Celtic FC at the Camp Nou Stadium on December 11, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Pho
Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Even so, it seems improbable and downright silly for Barcelona to think that they could outright replace his ability and genius on the pitch at any point in the next few years.

Messi is coming into what will surely be his top two or three seasons, should they keep him fit, and his monstrous market value will only continue to soar—especially with more new clubs doubtless set to be taken over by ambitious money men in the meantime.

For now, though, expect Messi to make a post-new year recovery from injury, play a significant part in Barcelona's second half of the season—and quite possibly have a telling impact in Brazil at season's end.

And, perhaps, outlast Rosell at Barcelona.



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