With uncertainty over a contract that expires in a year with Barcelona and two new managers to come in the next months, Leo Messi faces a career crossroads
Lionel Messi crashing face-first into the Camp Nou turf on Wednesday evening was the lasting image as Barcelona limped out of the Champions League having been unable to find a way through Juventus’ impenetrable defence over two legs and while the Blaugrana dissect their failure, the world’s best player faces a summer of uncertainty at club level and internationally.
This Sunday’s clasico could put the final nail in the coffin for Barcelona’s La Liga hopes and with only a Copa del Rey final against Alaves to come, regardless of Luis Enrique’s decision to walk away at the end of the season, it feels like the end of the 46-year-old’s cycle at the Camp Nou.
Such is the expectation at the very top, a season without either La Liga or Champions League glory is a failure and so once more the Catalan giants are in the market for a coach to regain their grip on European football.
Luis Enrique’s assistant Juan Carlos Unzue, Athletic Club manager Ernesto Valverde, Real Sociedad’s Eusebio Sacristan and Ronald Koeman have all been linked to the job given their ties to the club but there is another coach rumoured to be in the picture, who may have found an alternative route to fulfill a dream of working with Messi.
Jorge Sampaoli looks destined to succeed Edgardo Bauza as Argentina coach and so has dampened speculation linking him to the Camp Nou but watching Barça toil against Juventus, there are similarities in the challenges facing whoever takes either job.