Lionel Messi is uncomfortable at Barcelona, according to Juan Sebastian Veron, who says the Argentine superstar is struggling amid the Blaugrana’s search for an identity.
Barcelona have been unable to banish the memory of a trophyless 2019-20 campaign in the early stages of the new season, picking up just seven points from a possible 15 in La Liga.
To make matters worse, Messi has not scored a single goal from open play in his last six appearances for the club, with two successful penalties doing little to silence those who believe he is no longer fully committed to the collective cause at Camp Nou.
The 33-year-old handed in a transfer request over the summer only to later perform a U-turn on his future amid the looming threat of a legal battle, but he will be free to push for a move once again when the transfer window reopens in January.
Messi, who has a clause in his contract which allows him to leave Barca on a free transfer at the end of each season should he choose to do so, also expressed concern over Barca’s ability to compete at the very highest level after an 8-2 drubbing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League last term.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has been linked with the likes of Inter, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City in recent months, and it has been suggested that Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid will end up being his final Clasico appearance at Camp Nou.
Veron thinks Barca are in the middle of a transitional period which is hampering Messi’s ability to perform, and that Ronald Koeman has yet to figure out the best way to utilise a talismanic performer’s talents in the final third of the pitch.
“I see him with a lot of discomfort playing in a team in transition,” the former Argentine international told Ole. “In all of these years at Barcelona he was a key player but now they’re in transition, they have a lot of spare parts and are trying to find an identity.
“It seems clear to me that, to a certain extent, the club haven’t been able to provide Leo [with the right team-mates], especially in their formation and as a team.
“This, somehow, has gone against him. He’s a player who has always tried to be competitive and stay at the very top.”
Messi will be back in action with Barca when they take in a trip to Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday, which could see him come up against arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time since the Portugal international’s departure from Madrid two years ago.