Are There Signs the World Is Turning Against Lionel Messi?

Guillem BalagueFeatured ColumnistDecember 20, 2013

BARCELONA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 01:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona looks down 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

It's been an interesting week for Lionel Messi, his family and his entourage.

There have been false accusations about criminal activity—specifically aimed at Messi's father, Jorge. As reported by Marca, Spanish newspaper El Mundo claimed Messi senior was being investigated for allegedly helping Colombian drug cartels launder money.

As per Neil McLeman of the Mirror, "El Mundo claims the Spanish authorities believe a charity called Friends of Messi—which has held fundraising matches and concerts—has been used to launder cash."

I can confirm this story is completely false—full statement from Lionel Messi Management here—but in a way the damage is done.

It seems you can publish almost anything about Messi and it goes unpunished. El Mundo should have refuted the truth of the story inside 24 hours of running it, but they failed to do so.

Cesc Fabregas has gone so far as to suggest there's a conspiracy at work against Leo—read the translation of what he said to Mundo Deportivo at Yahoo! Sports. It does look like the world has gotten a little tired of Messi being at the top.

Messi, who is recuperating from injury in Argentina, went on RAC 1 Radio this week to address the issue, but there was another question to answer that would garner all the headlines.

As Reuters report, Barcelona director Javier Faus was on the same station earlier this month and made some inflammatory comments about Messi. He suggested Leo was pushing for a new contract but saw no reason why he should get one. He also referred to Messi as "that senor."

Messi was clearly riled by those words. "Mr. Faus is a person who knows nothing about football and he wants to run Barcelona as if it were a company and it is not," he said on air, as per Reuters.

Leo went on to state that neither he or his family had asked for more money or a new deal at Barcelona. "He [Faus] knows that very well," Messi said.

It's an interesting situation. One thing I do know is that Messi's family and Barcelona are, in fact, already negotiating a new contract.

This makes the words of Faus very odd. He looks like a fool. But a financial director doesn't say things like this by chance. Something is afoot, and we need to get to the bottom of what it is.

When Joan Laporta and Ferran Soriano were looking after Messi's situation at Barcelona, they told his family not to worry about money. They promised always to stay ahead of things in terms of his contract situation and that they would make sure he was free to concentrate on playing football.

Have things changed? And if so, why this shift of approach?

Is the world getting sick of Messi? Soon enough, the Argentine will once again be proving his worth on the pitch for La Blaugrana. Until then, we can only watch and speculate.