Nothing left to discuss
Barcelona's board of directors sat for an emergency meeting late on Wednesday and were perhaps momentarily interrupted as fans attempted to storm the club offices and force club president Josep Maria Bartomeu out.
The manic scenes, complete with chants of 'Bartomeu out'and 'Invasion, invasion', played out just days after Lionel Messi, whose first contract with the club was signed on a paper napkin at the tender age of 13, signaled his intention to quit with a bombshell 'burofax' -- now a word in every sports journalist's lexicon.
After 20 years, Messi wants to leave the club that he has given every ounce of devotion to. The fact that he had inserted an exit clause into his contract in 2017, a clause that allows him the option to leave the club for free at the end of each season if he so chooses, had raised no eyebrows. He was never going to leave. Barcelona took that for granted, as did every other club in the world. Approaches for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner were laughed off.
Despite grumbling about how the current team were not up to the mark, Messi had to endure humiliation in the Champions League. Against Roma, against Liverpool and finally, utter humiliation in Lisbon at the hands of Bayern Munich. He had to quietly endure allegations that Bartomeu had paid off companies to badmouth players on social media. He had to go toe-to-toe with the board to protect his teammates.
In response to comments by sporting director and former teammate Eric Abidal that the team was not working hard enough, Messi said: "The players [are responsible for] what happens on the pitch, and we have been the first to recognise when we were not good. The people in the directorate should also assume responsibility and above all take ownership of the decisions they make."
Messi's words could not be ignored, and Eric Abidal made way. One day into a new job, his replacement Ramon Planes, was left fielding questions about Messi's 'burofax'.
The main villian, according to fans and players, is Bartomeu. His meeting with the directors yielded nothing as Messi did not respond.
The same night of the meeting -- as rumours swirled about contact with Pep Guardiola, impending meetings with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain exiting then entering the race for his signature -- Messi dined with Luis Suarez, who has been told he is no longer required at the Camp Nou.
If reports are to be believed, the Argentine has no intention to meet Bartomeu, nor to stay even if he resigns. He has no intention to stay at Barcelona. His decision is 'irrevocable', and most of Catalonia has already said goodbye. A fan threw himself at the fences of the Camp Nou and wept. "It should have never ended like this," he exclaimed, clad in the famous No. 10 jersey.
It hasn't ended, not quite yet, not by a long shot. There is a lot that is yet to unravel. For now, we know one thing for certain: Messi wants to leave Barcelona. That in itself could be the most shocking news of 2020. And until Messi speaks out publicly, which he is reportedly set to do, the world must endure. As Messi has for far too long.