‘Difficult’ for Messi to stay at Barca, says father
BARCELONA: Jorge Messi, father and agent of Lionel Messi, said on Wednesday he thinks it will be “difficult” for his son to stay at Barcelona.
Messi senior landed in Barcelona on Wednesday ahead of talks with the club’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu about the striker’s intention to leave this summer.
Messi senior flew in from the Argentine city of Rosario, landing at the private terminal in Barcelona’s El Prat airport on Wednesday morning.
“I don’t know, I know nothing,” Messi’s father told Spanish TV channel Cuatro when asked if the 33-year-old would leave the only club he has played for professionally.
But when pressed if it would be hard for him to remain, he said “yes”. And asked how he sees Messi’s future at Barcelona, he replied “difficult, difficult.”
He dodged questions on whether Manchester City would be a good option for his son. A move to Manchester City would allow Messi to link up with his former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.
“I don’t know, there’s nothing yet,” he said, adding he had not had any discussions with Guardiola, who enjoyed trophy-laden years as Barcelona manager with Messi in his pomp.
Jorge Messi will be hoping to unblock the stand-off between Barca and his son, which threatens to descend into an expensive and bitter legal battle if a resolution cannot be found.
Messi last week told Barca he wanted to leave the club and invoked a contract clause that allowed him to depart for free at the end of the season. But Barca claimed the clause expired in June and said he must see out his current contract until June 2021, or leave by paying the buyout clause of 700 million euros ($837 million).
Barca have been saying it will not facilitate Messi’s departure and will only negotiate a contract extension. The club has offered the Argentine a two-year extension that would keep him with Barcelona through the 2022-23 season.
In addition to meeting with Messi’s father, Barca said theyt also wanted to meet personally with the player to try to change his mind about leaving. The club said it has been doing everything to try to convince Messi to finish his career at the club where he started nearly 20 years ago.
Messi hasn’t met with club officials since announcing his decision to leave and hasn’t said anything publicly since Barcelona’s 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals on August 14. The defeat that capped a difficult season for the club, its first without a title since 2007-08.
The 33-year-old Messi had been outspoken against club officials during the season and he hasn’t shown up at the club since the squad returned to training on Monday. He also skipped the required coronavirus tests the team underwent on Sunday.
Messi’s representatives claim he was allowed to invoke the clause to leave the club because this year the season was pushed back by the coronavirus pandemic.
If Messi joins another club but loses in court, he could be liable to pay the 700 million euros Barcelona are owed.
Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City are the firm favourites to sign Messi, not least because of his previous success with Guardiola. Inter Milan, Juventus and Paris St Germain are also interested.
Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2020