It seems the most chaotic club in world football right now happens to be Barcelona, with rumors about Lionel Messi leaving, or staying, and Luis Enrique being fired, among many other points of turmoil at the club. What comes next isn’t necessarily what actually happened, but the order of events and probable happenings behind the scenes according to the Spanish media.
On Friday (January 2), both Lionel Messi, Dani Alves and Neymar arrive from their Christmas vacation two days after the entire squad. On Sunday, matchday with Real Sociedad, the two of them are benched. Barcelona go on to lose 1-0, which means they remain four points behind Real Madrid, who also lost earlier that day.
According to rumors, Messi confronted Enrique over the benching, and the argument continued after the match as well. It wasn’t just with Enrique but also with other members of the coaching staff. During the post match interview, Andoni Zubizarreta, the director of football, takes jabs in front of the media at team president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The day after (Monday) Messi doesn’t show up for training, claiming to have stomach problems. Enrique obviously isn’t happy with what he views as an act of defiance, contemplating taking disciplinary action against him. Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets advise him against that, persuading him to take another route.
In the meantime, Zubizarreta is fired and his assistant, Carles Putol, resigns along with him. Sources start suggesting that Enrique has lost the dressing room, and has put an ultimatum to the board – choosing between him and Messi. In the meantime, Messi starts following Chelsea, Felipe Luis and Thibaut Courtois on Instagram which causes another kind of problem and rumor storm suggesting he’s planning on leaving to the Premier League.
According to sources from within the club, Enrique is given an ultimatum to win the next two matches and for things to settle down at the club. Reports in the media through anonymous Barcelona players suggest there’s not a lot of love for Enrique in the dressing room and his authoritarian ways, and that he’s the worst coach he’s ever had. I wonder who the player is.
On Tuesday (January 6) Messi trained on his own at the Ciutat Esportiva while Johan Cruyff makes an appearance with perfect timing. Reports come out that Enrique was hired against Zubizarreta’s will and advice. An unreliable media outlet in Spain claims Messi has been told by the board that Enrique will be fired within hours. Still hasn’t happened.
So what’s next? Captains set to meet with Messi and Enrique in an attempt to talk things out and hopefully start solving the situation. Enrique will talk to the press about the match against Elche (Thursday, Copa del Rey) and the team president will hold a press conference of his own.
In short? It’s anything but boring at Barcelona right now.