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Lionel Messi the Latest Victim of the Philippe Coutinho Transfer Saga

The press in Spain are blaming Messi for Barcelona failing to land Coutinho. Or thanking him. It’s hard to tell.

Barcelona v Real Betis - La Liga Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

We’ve had to deal with the Coutinho saga for the past month at least, and with it daily stories out of the Spanish press about done deals and Friday unveilings and the player being ready to go on strike. So now that it’s done and Coutinho is set to stay at the club for at least one more year, one would think that would be that.

At least for the Spanish press, it’s not. Today, with Coutinho off the table, they’re either painting Lionel Messi as the man saving the club from themselves or as something of a scapegoat—the reason why Barcelona were unable to get a deal done to bring Coutinho in to replace Neymar at the Camp Nou this summer.

It’s honestly hard to tell exactly what angle they’re going for, but either way, today Don Balon claim Coutinho’s signing failed because Messi refused to let the club include Sergi Roberto and Ivan Rakitic in the deal and that without their inclusion as makeweights, Barcelona were unable to match Liverpool’s asking price.

So. Lionel Messi is the man Barcelona fans should thank for stopping the club trading two of their starters plus a decent wedge of cash for Coutinho. Or he’s the man to blame for the fact Barcelona aren’t going to be signing Coutinho this summer. It’s not entirely clear what the takeaway is meant to be, but either way: Messi.

And of course there was never any suggestion during the long-running saga that Barcelona ever actually were inclined to offer Roberto and Rakitic—the only names ever linked as makeweights were players on the fringes at Barcelona who wouldn’t have been any closer to starting at Anfield than they are at Camp Nou.

In other Barcelona news—mostly because as Liverpool fans we’re going to enjoy any misfortune that befalls them after the way they sought to unsettle Coutinho and then lodged three massively insulting, below market value bids for the player—they could be set to lose Roberto this summer separate of any incomings.

That’s because there’s been talk in England of Manchester City considering triggering his €40M release clause. There has also been talk in Italy of Juventus doing it. They could also be set to lose Andres Iniesta on a free next summer as he has one year left on his current deal and reportedly isn’t happy with the current board.

Plus, if that’s all not bad enough, Lionel Messi has left his new contract unsigned and recently was reported to have talked to former boss Pep Guardiola about life and football and stuff. Come January, if he hasn’t signed the new deal, he could agree a pre-contract with Manchester City and head there on a free next summer.

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