Messi’s silence raises more doubts about Barcelona future

Barcelona's Lionel Messi. (Manu Fernandez/Pool, AP)

For every day that goes by without a word from Lionel Messi, a new rumour surfaces about his future with Barcelona.

Messi hasn’t made any public statement since Barcelona’s 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals last week, putting in doubt his permanence with the struggling Catalan club. He had already shown his discontent earlier in the season, and the humiliation in Lisbon only made it worse.

Messi, who has been with the Catalan club for nearly two decades, has a contract with Barcelona until the end of the 2020-21 season.

There’s been speculation about Messi’s future from the moment the final whistle blew against Bayern. The doubts increased after a Catalan radio station, RAC1, claimed late Thursday that the Argentina great met with new Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman and said he sees himself “more out than in” the club at the moment. Messi allegedly told Koeman that his future was not clear and that he was not happy with the current situation in Barcelona.

Barcelona is enduring one of its worst crises, coming off its first trophyless season since 2007-08 and dealing with uncertainty about its own future. It went through a coaching change midseason and players — especially Messi — were outspoken about their dissatisfaction with club directors and their recent decisions.

The radio station report made headlines across Spain. Barcelona admitted that the meeting was scheduled to happen but it did not release any details about the discussions.

Club president Josep Bartomeu said he had only spoken with Messi’s father, who told him his son was frustrated and disappointed. The president downplayed the situation, though, saying he was not too concerned.

Bartomeu has said all along he is confident that Messi will end his career with Barcelona, and that Messi himself has said this is his wish.

But Koeman’s words during his official introduction weren’t so reassuring. The Dutchman said he “hoped” that Messi would stay, and that he wanted to hear directly from the player to know what was in his mind.

“I want him to tell me what he is thinking,” Koeman said. “I don’t think I have to convince him. It would be wonderful to work with him because he wins you games.”

Bartomeu had said Koeman’s project with the club was based on having Messi in the team.

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