Lionel Messi “wants a project that motivates him” and allows him to win, says former Barcelona coach Juan Carlos Unzue, with the Argentine having thought long and hard about the tough decision to push for a move elsewhere.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner stunned those at Camp Nou when airing his desire to leave on the back of a humbling 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.
Tension had been building in Catalunya, with a talismanic presence making it clear that he was far from happy at events on and off the field, but efforts to sever ties with the Liga giants still came as a surprise.
It may be that a compromise is reached in talks with the club’s board that allow Messi to spend another season in his current surroundings, taking him through to the end of his contract in 2021.
A parting of ways appears to be on the cards at some stage, though, and Unzue is among those to have been left saddened by the breakdown in a working relationship that once seemed unbreakable.
Luis Enrique’s former assistant told Cadena SER of an unfortunate saga: “I thought Messi would finish his career at Barcelona. I want to think that the decision he's made has not been easy for him.
“If he ends up staying, it won't be a big problem.
“He will continue with all the ambition that he has shown since he was 16 years old, his ambition is stronger, his desire to win and impress supporters if he stays will make everyone happy.”
While disappointed to see a talismanic presence piecing together plans to cut ties with the only club he has represented at senior level, Unzue can appreciate why a born winner is asking questions of whether Barca can match his ambition.
“He wants a project that motivates him and [that will] make him win,” added Unzue.
“The difference between Messi and the rest is his ambition to continue winning even after having already won everything.
“When he retires we will value in the right measure the fact that he has remained at the top level for so many years.”
Messi has been part of the first-team fold at Barcelona for 16 memorable years, recording 634 goals through 731 appearances and helping the Blaugrana to 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns.