Barcelona find themselves in a crisis right now, with star man Lionel Messi angry at the club’s sporting director Eric Abidal for “dirtying” the players.
Although it’s hard to imagine Messi ever leaving the Camp Nou, the frustrated Argentine legend is now being linked with various clubs following his recent public outburst.
A win over Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey on Thursday night would have helped to calm things down – but Barça were eliminated from the competition in the dying seconds of the match, which means the crisis will continue to grow in the coming days.
Inaki Williams broke Barcelona hearts with a header in the third minute of stoppage time.
Athletic’s winner eventually went down as a Sergio Busquets own goal but, whoever was responsible for the final touch, the Catalan giants had suffered an untimely defeat.
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Whatever happens with Messi – and it’s still far more likely that he stays rather than leaves – Quique Setien and the club’s hierarchy have a rebuilding job to do over the coming season.
A number of key players, Messi included, are now in their early-30s.
Messi is 32, Luis Suarez recently turned 33, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets are both 31, while Arturo Vidal is 32.
Gerard Pique is another player who Barça will be looking to replace in the not-too-distant future.
The 33-year-old is still a class act but the little speed that he once had now appears to have deserted him.
Pique has never been the quickest centre-back but he was certainly no slouch at his peak.
But up against Williams at San Mames on Thursday, Pique was left holding on to his 25-year-old opponent’s shirt for dear life in a desperate attempt to stop him.
Watch the video here…
Per @Ultra_Suristic on Twitter, Williams told Spanish TV after the match: “I saw Pique having problems and told my teammates to pass me the ball closer to him.”
Ruthless – but that’s the sign of an intelligent forward: identifying a weakness in the opposing defence and exploiting it.
Not only did Pique get humiliated, but he also suffered an injury in the process.
The Spanish defender was replaced by Samuel Umtiti with 10 minutes of the match remaining.