Five reasons why this could be Messi's last season at Barcelona
Will we, at last, witness the mercurial superstar giving up the blue and burgundy colours of the Nou Camp?
Widely regarded as the greatest player this generation has seen, the magnificence of Lionel Messi has never failed to amaze people throughout his career. The Barcelona forward is nothing more than a joy to watch, owing to his silky dribbling skills and goal-scoring abilities.
Barcelona has benefited tremendously from the Argentine's loyal service to them. The Catalans have become one of the most followed football clubs around the globe and also have considerable financial might.
And make no mistake, Leo Messi is a big reason why they have been at the pinnacle both on and off the pitch for over a decade.
Even at his age, Messi is THE most important part of Barcelona's line-up. With Real Madrid becoming increasingly powerful, they will need the maestro to guide them in the battle against their arch-rivals.
But, recent developments at the Nou Camp seem to be putting the 30-year-old's future in doubt. Although Barcelona would like to cling on to their megastar, are we any closer to witnessing the end of Messi's Catalan fairytale?
Here's why May 2018 could be the month when the Rosario-born forward pulls on the Blaugrana shirt for one last time.
#5: The political turmoil in Spain
At the beginning, this wasn't a very important issue influencing the Argentine's future at the club. But, with the tumultuous times that Spain has been going through, the turmoil could be an important aspect in Messi's departure from Nou Camp.
With the Catalan separatists keen on calling a vote for independence, the geography of Spain is much closer to being split into two in the recent days. Should Catalonia win their independence, Barcelona will have to put with a host of problems.
First and foremost, the Blaugrana face an increasing threat of being excluded from the La Liga, should Catalonia win the independence. That would cause a certain trouble for Barca to attract players, even though they will be allowed to join a new league.
Financially, it would signal a loss for Lionel Messi. The Argentine is a big brand in football, and his earnings could be affected with his stocks expected to fall. Also, the various endorsements and sponsorship deals could see a dip in their profit. To top it all, the safety of his family is another issue Messi will need to address.
With Spain and Catalonia no closer to ending their tug-of-war, Nou Camp would emerge as the biggest loser, as a result of the unrest in the country.