‘How can you replace Messi?’ – Former Barcelona star fears for club

Martin Macdonald
Martin Macdonald
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‘How can you replace Messi?’ – Former Barcelona star fears for club
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Former Barcelona midfielder Boudewijn Zenden says he fears for the club should Lionel Messi leave as the Argentine’s contributions are irreplaceable.

Messi asked to leave Barcelona last summer after the Blaugrana were dumped out of the Champions League 8-2 by Bayern, while they ended that campaign in 2019/20 without any silverware for the first time in 12 years.

Since then, Ronald Koeman has been brought in, but the team has continued to regress, and look set to be eliminated from the Champions League at the round of 16 stage following a damaging 4-1 home defeat against PSG in the first leg of their tie against the French champions.

PSG just so happens to the be the club with the strongest interest in signing Messi this summer.

As well as the Argentine actually wanting to leave, Barcelona could be forced into letting him go for free at the end of his contract this summer in order to get him off the wage bill, as they are currently suffering from crippling debts.

Zenden admits he doesn’t know what Barca will do if Messi actually does leave the Camp Nou.

“It’s such a big loss if he leaves or if he quits football,” the Dutchman told talkSPORT.

“How can you replace that?

“We’ve seen in the past when Barca have had difficulties, it’s always Messi who can get them out of trouble. It’s not happening that often anymore. It’s not like Messi can do everything on his own; he still needs his teammates to help.

“At the moment they just lack a bit of quality and experience.

“Messi isn’t done and dusted – and nor are Barcelona – but they’re just not bringing the same level that they’re capable of.”

Barcelona off the pitch

The former Liverpool and Chelsea man also believes that the Catalan side suffer a lot from football politics behind the scenes within the club, and believes the negativity surrounding that aspect of the business is highlighted when the team isn’t winning.

“There’s a lot of politics and talk about new ownership, and players that aren’t fitting in,” Zenden explained.

“All of these teams have this type of pressure, but it’s definitely different when you’re top of the league and winning all your games.

“We also have the problem with the pandemic – like many teams – there is so much debt at the club.

“They’ve not been able to repeat what they’ve done in recent years and this has definitely affected the team on the pitch.”

FootballTransfers previously revealed that PSG had told merchandise vendors within Paris to prepare themselves for the arrival of Messi this summer.