Key question – was it the the diminutive captain’s last Barca game at the Camp Nou?
Stumped Blaugrana boss Ronald Koeman spoke about the future of their skipper Lionel Messi after Sunday’s disappointing 2-1 defeat to Celta Vigo in La Liga.
Messi was yet again his brilliant self and scored his 30th league goal of the season to open the scoring but it still wasn’t enough as he looked like a one-man team while the obdurate visitors ran out victors thanks to a Santi Mina brace.
Koeman was asked after the match if it was Messi’s last game at the Camp Nou and the visibly flustered coach was only too eager to prostrate himself before the Messi altar in desperation.
“I hope not because I think [against Celta] he’s shown his effectiveness and that he’s still the best in the world,” he said.
“It [would be] impossible to play without him. But it’s Leo on his own and, to win more games and get more points, we need more players to score goals.
“Leo’s scored 30 goals and won us a lot of points. But [his future] is a question for him. For me and for the club, we hope he stays. Because if there’s no Leo, we have doubts about who will score the goals.”
Messi had said previously he would wait until the end of the season to make a decision and the sand in the hourglass is fast running out. Barca play their final fixture on Sunday away against a relegated Eibar in what could be the captain’s last game if he does not renew as the LaLiga is already a spectre gone with the night.
There had been bibrant optimism – with chests puffed up, especially Koeman’s – after the Copa del Rey win that Messi would stay on but the Blaugrana’s disappointing end to the season could well have a dire impact on the captain’s thinking that is much more drastic than losing the Spanish and Champions Leagues.
Needless to say, the developments that would soon unfold would definitely impact Koeman’s future one way or another as the pressure continues to pile up on Dutchman.