Barca Considered Selling Messi In 2014?
FC Barcelona Considered Selling Lionel Messi In 2014?
Popular author and journalist Graham Hunter told Soccer Laduma about a time when FC Barcelona's hierarchy toyed with the idea of selling superstar Lionel Messi.
To listen to exclusive weekly podcasts from Graham Hunter – including all the inside news from FC Barcelona – join his Socio members club here!
With the Argentine's current deal in Spain expiring in 2018, Soccer Laduma contacted Graham Hunter, who has chatted with the Barca forward on many occasions.
Despite predicting that Messi will remain at the Catalan club, Hunter told Soccer Laduma how Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu played with the idea of letting the Argentine leave the club in 2014, even proposing the idea to fans in a survey.
"So when Messi sets this mark (La Liga all-time scoring record for Barca in 2014/15 season) against Sevilla, the fans all stayed on because there was a ceremony after the game and during the ceremony on the scoreboards, there were messages specifically congratulating Messi from (former Barca sports director Andoni) Zubizarreta and the crowd jeered," Hunter said.
"And when Bartomeu came on with his pre-recorded message to congratulate Messi, the crowd super jeered him. And by January Zubizarreta was sacked because there has to be someone to take the blame.
"Almost like the sacrificial lamb. Like 'Oh, that’s who they were really booing'. Well, they weren't.
"The reason I go here is because the fans were booing when Rosell and Bartomeu took over, they began to look at how they could raise money and in one of their surveys they slipped, in at the end, something about, 'Could you envisage the club ever selling Messi?'
"I think the media and the fans immediately raised concerns. There was a stadium renovation to pay for. The board that Rosell and Bartomeu were a part of included a financial adviser who complained about having to renew Messi's contract."
In January, Messi will be allowed to talk to any clubs if he has still not signed a new deal at Barca, while Andres Iniesta, who was in a similar boat to the Argentine, recently signed a lifetime contract with the Catalan giants.
To read the full interview with Graham Hunter, go get yourself the latest copy of the Soccer Laduma!