The Argentinian superstar’s future remains in doubt but there’s hope that he will remain at the club he joined as a 13-year-old
Gaizka Mendieta thinks the next few weeks are key for Barcelona to ensure that their greatest player, Lionel Messi, doesn’t move on when his contract expires.
Goal understands that Messi is shutting out talk of his future and will make a decision at the end of the season, but Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are keen to make offers to the superstar should he look to leave in the summer.
It follows an unprecedented interview that Messi gave last summer to outline his unhappiness at Camp Nou. However, Mendieta believes that Messi will remain with the Blaugrana as long as they prove they can compete for trophies.
What was said?
“Having been a player myself, I can tell you what we want. We want to be competitive and win trophies. I think that’s what Messi wants,” Mendieta told Goal.
“Of course, the contract side and family circumstances are important. But just on the player, I think he wants to win trophies. If he sees Barca can win and compete for trophies, then he will certainly stay at Barcelona. If he doesn’t see that happening, he will look somewhere else.
“I am hoping, like a lot of Barca and football fans in Spain, Messi will stay in Barca. I am sure other people would like to see him tested somewhere else in another league or club.
“But I am a romantic, especially in this day and age with players changing club so often, that he would have his whole career at that level in the same club. I think it would be amazing for him and Barca.
“He is not in decline, he might have had some dips, but decline is a big word for someone who has been at an amazing level for 15 years. We all agree that he is one of the greatest in football history, whether you support Barca or not.
“He achieved that by delivering in every game and training session. He has certainly had to change his style due to his age and new managers. He is not the Messi we saw a few years ago, but for me he is still the best.
“If you look at matches around the world, how many players can affect a game like him? There’s not many.”
Are Barcelona improving again?
The Catalan giants have stabilised since Messi’s interview, where financial issues and club politics threatened to undermine one of Europe’s most powerful institutions.
Joan Laporta has been appointed the club’s president and he gives the Blaugrana renewed hope of keeping Messi. Alongside that, coach Ronald Koeman has kept Barca competitive in the Liga title race, and with a Copa del Rey final to come this weekend against Athletic Bilbao.
Furthermore, a host of young players like Pedri and Ansu Fati have freshened up the squad despite the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to impact Barca’s finances.
“They’ve been improving for a while now,” Mendieta added. “The Clasico was a good game and could have been better. Defensively, they could have done better. Against Valladolid, they didn’t play well but won and got the points – but sometimes that’s what you need to do.
“I think consistency has come after not being beaten in a while until the Clasico. The confidence is coming with Koeman, who has been playing certain young players and using what he has.
“Pedri had a good game in El Clasico the other day. He is playing a big role but I think he can learn and do more. Out of the three of them, Atletico Madrid is the one on a dip and I make either Real Madrid or Barca favourites to win La Liga.