AS the reality that the biggest name in football could be preparing to make his way out at Barcelona sinks in, Argentine Primera División side Estudiantes de La Plata have embarked on making a bold offer of their own.
Its current chairman, Juan Sebastián Verón, who is also a former Argentina international, has told Lionel Messi the No 10 shirt at Estudiantes is his if he wants it. Despite this, reports suggest Verón cannot see his fellow countryman severing ties with Barça. A move away from Camp Nou for the one-club man has been mooted amid struggles for consistency from the Blaugrana in 2019/20.
The current state of affairs suggests second-placed Barcelona could lose their La Liga title to arch-rivals Real Madrid, who lead the way atop the standings, four points clear with only four rounds of fixtures to go in the campaign. Even if the Catalan giants were to win their remaining games, Los Blancos need only three wins to ensure the title heads to Madrid.
Reports have also suggested that Messi, whose current contract ends at the end of next season, has shelved all further contract extension talks. The 33-year-old has seen moves to the likes of Inter Milan (Serie A) and Manchester City (Premier League) come to nought in the past with the exit door barely having edged open, as things stand, in Catalunya.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has always ended up reaching an agreement at Camp Nou, but there are seemingly no guarantees of history repeating itself now, even though club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has insisted its best-ever player will end his career in a Blaugrana shirt. A half a world away, however, Verón is among those watching the drama unfold.
The ex-Lazio and Manchester United midfielder admitted a role could be found for Messi if he wanted to head home. “If you want to come here, you have the ’10’ ensured,” Verón said on Fox Sports in his message for Messi. He added: “Beyond that, I don’t really imagine him outside Barcelona, but these are things that we say today, and tomorrow, we see him out there going to another club.
It is not a good period for [Barça] as they are undergoing changes and these changes are difficult. It is difficult to find a Xavi and an [Andres] Iniesta – you will not find either. It is a moment of transition and complexity that ultimately, Barcelona will have to work through, in order to find the answers to all of this.”
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