According to reports, Barcelona’s draw with Atletico Madrid looks set to prove far more costly than potentially costing the Blaugrana the La Liga title.
Barca’s struggles continue
The last 48 hours have proven even more drama-filled than usual at the Camp Nou.
The Spanish champions welcomed Atletico Madrid to Catalunya on Wednesday night, for their latest league outing.
The matchup came as a must-win for Barca, after a pair of draws in their preceding 3 fixtures allowed Clasico rivals Real Madrid to reestablish themselves atop the Spanish top-flight table.
In the end, however, the Blaugrana, as they have time-and-time again of late, simply failed to get the job done.
Despite having gone in front on a pair of occasions, the hosts’ inability to defend eventually allowed Atleti to secure a share of the spoils, in a 2-2 draw.
Xavi in, Setien out?
The finger of blame has since been pointed in a whole host of directions on the back of Barca’s latest dropped points, with the likes of Luis Suarez and Ivan Rakitic having majorly disappointed versus Atleti.
None, though, have been more widely criticised than Quique Setien.
The Blaugrana boss again flattered to deceive, with a combination of a lack of solidity at the back and no real game plan going forward having left Setien to depend on moments of individual brilliance to bail him out.
The injury-time introduction of Antoine Griezmann was also frankly insulting, further proof that Setien doesn’t appear to possess either the tactical or personal nous to manage a club at the very top of the game.
And, if the latest word stemming from the Spanish press is to be believed, then, despite having only been appointed in January, the former Real Betis boss’ days on the Camp Nou bench look to be numbered.
As per a report from Francesc Aguilar of Mundo Deportivo, the board in Catalunya have already lined up club legend Xavi Hernandez as Setien’s successor.
In fact, Aguilar goes as far as to claim that a ‘firm agreement’ is in place between the parties, with Xavi having accepted the personal terms of a deal to return to his boyhood club this summer.
Xavi habría llegado a un acuerdo firme para hacerse cargo del Barça a final de temporada, habría aceptado una oferta de JM Bartomeu que contaría con el apoyo de la plantilla. En cualquier caso Quique Setién acabaría la temporada o sería sustituido por García Pimienta.
— Francesc Aguilar (@FApor_elmundo) July 2, 2020
Messi to move on?
A shakeup on the bench, though, may not be the only major personnel change in Barcelona’s not-so-distant future.
In a report that has since rocked the club’s fanbase, it has been definitively claimed that Lionel Messi has come to the decision to depart the La Liga champions.
As first revealed by the generally reliable Cadena Ser, and since added to by a whole host of sources across European football, Blaugrana captain Messi has informed the club that he intends to move on come the end of his current contract in 2021.
While negotiations over a new deal had previously been thought to be progressing well, it is now suggested that the veteran attacker has halted any and all talks with the Barca hierarchy over extending his time with the club.
A whole host of reasons are cited as having played a role in Messi’s change of heart, chiefly:
Poor recruitment, claims that he has influence on team selection, a strained relationship with both the club’s board and Setien, and, crucially, the feeling that he, above all others, is blamed for issues both on and off the pitch at the Camp Nou.
Lionel Messi is fed up.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) July 3, 2020
This article was edited by Josh Barker.