Barcelona Makes Big Call on Lionel Messi’s No.10 Shirt

Lionel Messi's Barcelona shirt

Getty Lionel Messi's Barcelona shirt

Barcelona has made a big call regarding Lionel Messi’s No. 10 shirt at the club ahead of Sunday’s La Liga clash against Getafe at the Camp Nou.

There had been speculation that Philippe Coutinho could take on the iconic number in the wake of the captain’s shock departure on his return from injury. However, Coutinho has been handed the No. 14 shirt for Sunday’s match, the same number he wore last season.

Here’s a look at the squad list for the visit of Getafe.

The No. 14 had been given to reserve striker Rey Manaj for Barca’s opening games against Real Sociedad and Athletic but, as he has not yet featured, he is able to change number. Manaj has switched to No. 17 but may not keep that number as it appears to belong to Ansu Fati.

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If Manaj does feature against Getafe, which appears unlikely, then he will have to keep the No. 17 which would mean Fati would need a new number and could potentially take on the No. 10. Fati is yet to return from a serious knee injury but is back in training with Barcelona.

However, it’s also possible that Manaj will leave Barca before the close of the transfer window and free up the No. 17. The striker has offers from Real Mallorca, Rayo Vallecano and Freiburg and is waiting on a decision on his future from coach Ronald Koeman, according to Mundo Deportivo’s Ferran Martinez.

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No Number 10 For Barcelona?

It currently appears that Barcelona could go without a No. 10 for the 2021-22 campaign with no players wanting to take on the Argentine’s shirt, according to Catalunya Radio.

The report claims the only possibilities now to wear the No. 10 are “Ansu Fati, Kun Agüero or a new last-minute signing.” Yet it seems that Aguero can be ruled out as the striker has already announced he will wear No. 19.

The transfer window does not close until August 31 which means Barca could still bring in another signing. Coach Koeman has already admitted he wants one more attacker but knows it will be difficult due to the club’s financial issues.

Fati is another option for the No. 10 as he is one of the club’s brightest young stars. However, the 18-year-old has been out of action since November 2020 and Barca may want to avoid piling pressure on the youngster, particularly as he is still recovering from a serious injury.

Will Barcelona Make Changes?

With only days left in the the transfer window it seems unlikely there will be too many changes to the Barca squad. Midfielder Miralem Pjanic continues to be linked with a return to Juventus but there is a growing pessimism over a move, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Teenage midfielder Ilaix Moriba could be on his way out of the club after being unable to agree an extension to his contract which expires in 2022. The 18-year-old has an agreement with RB Leipzig but Barca is still waiting for an offer, as reported by Fabrizio Romano.

Yet the chances of Barca bringing in players looks slim with Koeman admitting in his pre-match press conference on Saturday that it’s been a frustrating transfer market for the Catalan giants, as reported by ESPN.

“For everyone that wants the best for the club, it’s frustrating, I understand it. On the other hand, we have to be realistic. Economically, the club can’t compete with other clubs, with Paris, City, United. That’s how it is at the moment,” he said. “We can’t demand what has been demanded before at this club. We have to understand the moment the club is in.”

The transfer window in Spain closes at 5:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 31. Clubs can still bring in free agents after this date or loan players out to leagues where the window is still open.

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