Behind the scenes of Lionel Messi’s decision to leave Barcelona: the details that made him explode and the first call he received

Messi's pain after the crushing loss to Bayern Munich.  Last images of him in blaugrana.  (Manu Fernandez / Pool via REUTERS)
Messi’s pain after the crushing loss to Bayern Munich. Last images of him in blaugrana. (Manu Fernandez / Pool via REUTERS)

“I am leaving Barcelona. I can’t stay here. It is already a completed cycle “.

Messi got fed up and he whitewashed it to his family in a talk with almost no witnesses. For years he has not decided for him alone even if he is a world figure. Even though he thinks he does what comes to mind, he listens. But this time it was necessary for him to listen to himself. And he did. When he resigned from the National Team, after the final of the Centennial Cup in the United States, it was more of a fit of anger. He left the locker room and threw his anger. This time he looked around more. He reflected, had a few talks with family and friends. He saw that everything was pushing him out of the Camp Nou. Everything was expelled from that stadium that he saw in wonder through a window, a few blocks away, when he arrived in Barcelona at the age of 13.

He no longer supports living with leaders he mistrusts, who are capable of putting together a smear campaign against the team itself. He no longer wants to shake hands with Bartomeu or for a photo. He does not want them as managers or as people. Messi wants to win again and thinks that neither the place nor the people are where he dreamed of staying and living forever.

For years Messi has been criticized for not stepping out of his comfort zone. Do not leave Barcelona before to try another league. They do not know or forget that The Argentine 10 is a competitive animal like few others. Nobody stays 15 years in the top three in the world if they don’t want to compete.

Once Guardiola, the coach who did better to Leo, was asked what surprised him the most about Messi. He did not speak of how he carried the ball at speed – something that even Maradona marveled at – but rather “his competitive spirit.” It’s true: in that context, he likes friendly environments. Feeling clothed. The conflict is not fuel for him as it could be for Diego. And he was not passionate about knowing different leagues like Cristiano. That is why he stayed at Barça. That is why -also- today he leaves Barça. He no longer feels comfortable at the club or with a new project to win the Champions League in the last years of his career.

Messi is 33 years old. It has been 5 seasons since he won the trophy he wants most after the World Cup. It was far away to be on the squad of the Champions 2006. Or to be decisive in 2009, 2011 and 2015. Messi wants to try again. He wants to win the Champions. AND in Barcelona I did not see it possible. For the last shocks of Bayern Munich, Rome, Liverpool. Plus all the drives that you already saw and smells that come in the club.

The treatment of Koeman to Luis Suárez angered Messi. He has already lived with decisions that left out friendly players. Kun Agüero was more substitute than starter in the National Team and Messi never generated a conflict for that reason. What’s more: in the last Copa América, Lionel Scaloni took Kun out of the starting team and the City player was furious. It was Leo who calmed his roommate.

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In Barcelona something else happened: the Dutch coach confused personality with pride. It is a lack of respect – for Messi and for the world – that Suárez is thrown out by phone. Those decisions – with the club’s third historical scorer or with the 4 substitute – are made face to face. In fact, Near Leo there is also a talk today with Busquets that he did not like either. It was impossible to imagine a good coexistence of Messi with Koeman. His talk with the coach did not seduce him in the least.

Even for Messi it will be rare to see himself outside of Barcelona. His wife, Antonela Roccuzzo, and their three children is his place in the world. Even when Messi speaks in Rosario, he lived more years in Spain than in Argentina. It was difficult to move them from there. It even sounded unthinkable to see him at Newell’s, his kid’s club. Leo himself has told in his last public appearances that Thiago, his oldest son, was a local there. Mateo and Ciro are younger. That family welfare always leaned in the balance. Because actually Messi’s Barcelona had already stopped winning the Cup it wanted for years.

Now, despite that “family value”, Messi feel that it is time to pack the bags. It has not yet been leaked where he will play but from the start he is first among the candidates Manchester City. Kun Agüero and Guardiola are looking forward to it. And till some call has already arrived from the England side. From the player himself, hero of the city for his goal at minute 93. And perhaps from Pep himself. They need each other. Although they will have to fight with Inter, where Javier Zanetti is as a strong man of decisions, and another powerful man like PSG, who has euros and friends like Neymar, Di María and now Paredes.

For all that fed up Messi gave the order to his inner circle to send the now famous burofax to notify the exit. It is neither more nor less than a fax service for sending documents that is exclusive to post offices. He wants to execute the unilateral exit clause that is written in the contract for each season finale. That way Messi doesn’t have to pay. It is being seen if there is the extension of that point due to the pandemic and the exact dates. Silver will not be a hindrance.

At 1:30 p.m. on this historic Tuesday, someone very close to the world Messi wrote to me “there may be news today.” It implied that Leo wasn’t going to be at Koeman’s training on Monday. Half an hour later, around 19 in Barcelona, ​​the source raised the bet: “Communication has arrived.” In the inner circle of 10 they were surprised by such a rapid leak. But it was a detail. One day the best player in the history of Barcelona was no longer a Barcelona player …

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