Lionel Messi or Luis Enrique: Who is the real boss at Barcelona?
Few Manchester United partisans and players could relate to Neymar's gesture to Lionel Messi after Barcelona conceded in the first minute in the match against Real Sociedad.
“Send him off” were the words uttered by a Manchester United player (yet to be identified) from the dugout during one of the matches in 2013-2014 season. It was not for an opposing player nor for the other team’s manager. Surprisingly, those kind words were for his very own manager – David Moyes.
Although, Neymar’s reaction was much more subtle when compared to the David Moyes’ incident, his actions vehemently point to the worst nightmare for any manager – losing the dressing room.
This stokes up the adding list of troubles at the Barcelona football club. They could not overturn the transfer ban on the club for some disparate youth transfers. The presidential elections have been preponed to the end of this season and things are not business as usual on the pitch as well. The club is definitely in crisis and that is epitomized by the current Messi-Enrique saga.
The rift between Messi and Guardiola
It is not for the first time that Lionel Messi is in the news for his actions against a manager. Remember the soft drink incident involving Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola?
Three hours before a routine match, Lionel Messi requests for a soft drink and then-Barca manager Pep Guardiola swiftly refused the same. Messi responds to this by getting up from his place and fetched a soft drink bottle for himself. He then gulps it, right in front of Pep Guardiola and the Barcelona teammates. These sort of actions normally lands one in hot water more often than not. This could have one such battle which decides the fate of the player in the team or probably, the club but in case of Leo Messi, his performances, and his game-changing ability bailed him out!
Under Enrique, after being benched against Real Sociedad, Lionel Messi took the controversy to another level after he decided to skip the open training session. Luis Enrique had made up his mind to place a hefty fine for Messi’s actions. The only reason Messi escaped that punishment was because of a humble request by the La Masia youth academy products like Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets to their manager, who later decided not to go ahead with his plans. Then, Barcelona FC managed to veneer the issue by stating that Messi’s gastroenteritis problem prompted him to miss the training session.
Had this been any other player, he would have surely found his name in the subsequent transfer window and would have been sold to some club but this is not an ordinary player. We are talking about Lionel Messi but can anyone think of selling him inspite of his antics? Will a player of that ilk be just sold to any other team?
Lionel Messi or Luis Enrique?
In order to put an end to these kind of derisive problems, one thing is certain: The club board needs to choose a side – Messi or Enrique. But the question here is: Whom should they favor? Should they put an end to Messi's tantrums? Or should they just turn their backs on Luis Enrique?
For once, let us take help of the statistics:
Messi has been the key figure for Barcelona FC since his debut: 11 years ago. You name any trophy at the club level, he has a medal for the same or probably, more than one medal for the same. He has scored 377 goals in 448 appearances, winning 21 trophies with the club. Even at the mature age of 27, he has achieved more than any player could dream of achieving in his lifetime. He is the leading La Liga goalscorer of all time. He has established himself as one of the most important players for the club. Considering his talent, Messi has earned that place for being the most important player that Barcelona could hardly ignore. He is a winner by all means. Arguably, the best player to have graced the game!
Luis Enrique, on the other hand, has been a successful player, but to support his coaching candidature, he has not won a single major trophy. He has not proved himself yet and by looks of his relationship with Lionel Messi, Enrique would not mind selling Lionel Messi as well.
The answer is pretty clear
Going by the statistics, would a club like to suffer from the loss of a player like Lionel Messi, who has 3-4 years of elegant football left in him (or more), who has dominated club football for many years, who has brought many trophies to the Camp Nou, who has single-handedly turned around the outcome of a match and who has repeatedly pledged his allegiance to Barcelona FC or they would part ways with a coach, who has no success blueprint? The answer is pretty clear and probably, the club realized this and has started to clean this mess.
They got through the first step without any hassles. The person who recommended Luis Enrique as their manager, Andoni Zubizaretta has been sacked. This means that the Barca board is clearly unhappy with the developments that happened under him and the appointment of Luis Enrique could be one of them.
According the current reports in Spain, the Barcelona club president, Josep Bartomeu has decided to stick by Lionel Messi. Considering the muddy developments at the Camp Nou in recent weeks, Bartomeu couldn't have acted much smarter. The reports also indicate that he has lost his patience and is keen to end Luis Enrique’s revolution at Barcelona.
By the looks of it, things are ominous for the current manager and as days go by, Luis Enrique's hold seems to be slipping! The real battle is not on the pitch, but it seems to be within the club. Only a marvel could see Luis Enrique managing the team till the end of the season.
This part of the Messi-Enrique battle can definitely be recorded as the football version of Horrible Bosses. It is just that it is more sophisticated and real!