Time for Messi to go?

Messi hasn't hit top form.
Messi hasn't hit top form. / AFP
  • With Barcelona's financial situation significantly worsening, the club can ill-afford to carry their clearly unmotivated star

Here it is, I'm finally going to say it... It's time to end the marriage of Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona.

The relationship turned sour in the summer. It looked like a little counselling had cleared the air, however it's clearly not working and the once-perfect relationship is beyond repair.

Messi appears unmotivated and the club's financial situation is worsening. He can leave in the summer for free, but it may be best for everyone if they could persuade someone to pay a fee in the winter transfer window, take him out of his misery and lighten the wage bill.

When Neymar went public with his desire to reunite with Messi one last time, many assumed he was hinting at a return to the Camp Nou. In reality, it's more likely that Messi would have to head to Paris for the reunification, as Barcelona can't afford one 'galáctico', so forget two.

If he stays - and signs a new contract - he'd be looking for around 50 million euros per year, that's 110 million euros per year before tax is taken. This is a club that has reported debts of around 600 million and has told the players that biannual bonuses won't be paid in January.

There are no signs of supporters filling the vast stadium, the museum which can attract 10,000 visitors a day is closed, and, as a result, the retail arm is virtually redundant.

It's a desperate financial outlook and their biggest outlay is the wage of a footballer who is counting the days until he ends his glorious career.

In the humiliating defeat against Cadiz, he gave the ball away 29 times and his body language screamed 'get me out of here'.

There is no greater sight than Messi in full flight, but this season it's a rarity. He's seeing out a contract that is unlikely to be renewed and the interim president conceded that he should have been sold in the summer.

The chances of winning La Liga are over before the year turns. Barça have advanced into the knockout stages of the Champions League but don't have the team to realistically challenge.

For the first time, they are in danger of carrying Messi rather than depending on him. Even the prospect of going head-to-head with Cristiano Ronaldo for what could turn out to be the final time didn't inspire him. Ronaldo, finding a new lease of life in Juventus colours, scored two goals and his eternal rival completely overshadowed him.

Messi would be doing Barcelona a massive favour if he went early. They need the money they'd save in wages and a moody cloud would be lifted. At some point in the very near future the age of "Messi-dependencia" needs to end. The club have relied on his brilliance and now they have to adjust to life where they don't lean on him.

I've stated my case but I'm not sure exactly where he should go. Manchester City fans would love to see him skipping around the Eastlands of Manchester but Mrs Messi relocating to Cheshire is debatable.

It's likely that only the French club could afford him - but probably in the summer. Yet he'd be doing everyone a favour if he headed for Paris in the springtime.