Football
Logo
 

Has Messi played his last game at Camp Nou as a Barca player?

AP/Barcelona
Filed on May 17, 2021
Barcelona's Lionel Messi shoots the ball during the La Liga match against Celta de Vigo. (AFP)

It is up to Messi. For me and the club, we want him to stay with us, Barcelona coach Koeman said


With Barcelona’s season effectively over, Lionel Messi now has a big decision to make.

Should he finish out his career at the club that helped him become an all-time soccer great?

Or have the team’s struggles to keep winning trophies convinced him that he can find more success in Paris or Manchester?

If he decides to leave Barcelona at the end of the season, Sunday’s defeat to Celta Vigo was Messi’s last game at the Camp Nou in a Barcelona shirt.

Barcelona were left without any chance of winning the Spanish league on Sunday, bowing out the title race in demoralising fashion after letting Celta Vigo overhaul a goal by Messi and rally for a 2-1 victory.

Atletico Madrid beat Osasuna 2-1 and can now only be caught by Real Madrid in next weekend’s final round.

Barcelona have one game left on the calendar, but with nothing to play for except third place in the league, the club’s attention is now fully on the future of its inscrutable star.

Last summer, Messi had said he wanted to leave Barcelona after a campaign that finished without a title and a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

When that exit was denied by the club, Messi said that he would focus on this season and put off any decision until this summer when his contract expires on June 30.

Since then, Joan Laporta has been elected for a second stint as the club’s president. Laporta ran Barcelona when Messi was just blossoming with the team and maintained a good relationship with the player and his family. Even so, Messi has not confirmed a decision on his future.

“I hope not,” coach Ronald Koeman replied when he was asked if he believed Messi had played his final match at Camp Nou — a stadium still without fans because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“He is still the best player in the world and today he showed that it is impossible to play without him,” Koeman said. “He has scored 30 goals this season (in the league) and earned us a lot of points.

“It is up to Messi. For me and the club, we want him to stay with us. Because if Leo is not here, we have doubts about who can score.”

On the same night that Barcelona’s women won the Champions League for the first time by routing Chelsea 4-0, Barcelona’s men’s lineup was again undone by some sloppy defending and failing to converting their scoring chances.

The 33-year-old Messi extended his club-record tally to 672 goals with a header to give Barcelona a first-half lead against Celta. But like too many times in recent weeks, Barcelona’s defense let it down.

Celta striker Santi Mina equalised before halftime on a shot that goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen could have done more to try to keep out. Mina then added a second goal in the 88th after defender Clement Lenglet left Barcelona a man down when he earned a second yellow card.

Koeman had succeeded in bringing in some younger players to rejuvenate Barcelona’s squad this season and steering the team to the Copa del Rey title last month.

The former Barcelona defender had also inspired his team to a hot streak in the league that had allowed it to almost erase a double-digit lead by Atletico.

But when Barcelona had the opportunity to move past Atletico and take the lead in late April, they were upset 2-1 by Granada at home. That loss derailed the team. Barcelona drew with Atletico and at Levante before the loss to Celta. If they do not beat the already relegated Eibar in the last round, Barcelona could finish in fourth place.

The late-season collapse of his team that may have put Koeman’s job in danger with midfield great Xavi Hernandez apparently being groomed to take his place. -- AP





ERROR: Macro /ads/dfp-ad-article-new is missing!
MORE FROM Sports
MORE FROM Khaleej Times
CurrentRequestUnmodified: /sport/football/messi-happy-leading-barca-revival-but-psg-a-reminder-of-what-could-await macro_action: article, macro_profile: ,1052,1049 macro_adspot:
 
 
 
 
KT App Download
khaleejtimes app

All new KT app
is available
for download:

khaleejtimes - android khaleejtimes - ios khaleejtimes - HUAWEI AppGallery