He is staying, but because he did not have any other chance.
This will probably be Leo Messi´s last season at Barça after he announced that he will end his contract. If this is the case, we could clearly remember The Last Dance of those legendary Chicago Bulls lead by Michael Jordan, but this time with Messi as the main character. Now it would be “El Último Baile”, or even better, “El Último tango”, as Messi would say.
The Last Dance was the lifeguard for all the sports lovers during quarantine. The popular documentary showed the heart of the Michael Jordan´s Chicago Bulls franchise in the 90s. Jerry Krause, the architect of that team, wanted to kick them out ahead of time by firing Phil Jackson. What he did not expect is that all the players would support their coach and threat the executive with leaving along Jackson. For this reason, Krause gave in and decided to count on Jackson for one more season and rebuild the entire team at the end of it. That squad faced off a huge challenge: they knew from the beginning of that 97-98 year that it was going to be their last season together, their Last Dance.
Twenty three years later, the story can happen again at FC Barcelona. After a very poor season and a long drought in Europe, Messi took a step that nobody expected: he announced his intentions of leaving, keeping the fans in suspense for 10 endless days and exposing the lacks of the Board of Directors. In the end, his desire of going somewhere else was denied at the office, as his release clause was a big issue to overcome. President Bartomeu assured that the clause that allowed Messi to sign with another club for free expired on the 10th of June; on the other side, the Argentinian sticked by the fact that LaLiga had not even returned on that date due to “this shitty virus”, as he called it. He is staying by now but… How long?
If Jerry Krause was the obstacle at the Bulls, so Bartomeu is at Barça. They both put the entity before the star. In sports, just like in life, there is always someone above you, even if your last name is Jordan or Messi.
While Michael Jordan culminated a winning project, Messi does not even know if “they are going to keep juggling around and plugging holes”. Those Bulls were a compacted team; these Barça are still stuck with players on their decline, praying for Messi to pull the car.
The Bulls ended their run earning their second three-peat, but the franchise has been rebuilding since then. At Barça they really need a deep renewal that they are resisting to make. With koeman as the new head coach and elections for the Board of Directors coming up in March, will Barça´s course change with Messi in the team?