Lionel Messi is rarely out of the spotlight out of Barcelona, but there’s a renewed focus on the 33-year-old after the first six games of the season.
The Barca captain has not managed a single goal from open play in 2020-21 and the only two goals the Argentina international has scored have come from the penalty spot against Villarreal and Ferencvaros.
His lack of goals has not gone unnoticed either. Marca highlights how the skipper “is beginning to become a cause for concern” for Barcelona and think he “struggles in a new position as part of a new system.”
The report also notes how Messi has been outscored so far this season by 17-year-old team-mate Ansu Fati, long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, former Barcelona team-mate Suarez and international colleague Lautaro Martinez.
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Messi Hasn’t ‘Found His Place’ in Koeman’s System
Messi is also struggling to find his place in Koeman’s 4-2-3-1 system, according to Goal’s Rik Sharma. The report adds that if Messi “can no longer score at the same clip” then the Catalan giants “have a big problem.”
Football Critic’s Paul Macdonald has also noted how Messi’s numbers are “nowhere near his regular output” and adds that “Ronald Koeman is right to be concerned about his performances.”
The captain has finished as the top scorer in La Liga for the last four seasons in a row, ending the 2019-20 campaign with 25 games from 33 league outings. There’s no doubt he’s made a slow start, but it would still be no surprise if he won the Pichichi Trophy again this season.
Is Messi Unhappy or Finally Slowing Down?
Of course, Messi’s slow start follows a summer of discontent at the Camp Nou. The forward made it clear he wanted to leave the Catalan giants but was unable to find a way out.
Messi made his displeasure at the club and president Josep Maria Bartomeu known in an interview with Goal’s Ruben Uria. The captain said he’d been told he could decide his future at the end of the season but then the president “did not keep his word.”
Defender Gerard Pique has said he was shocked and angered at the events involving Messi over the summer and urged the club “to take better care of our legends,” in an interview with La Vanguardia.
More frustration followed after close friend and team-mate Suarez left and joined La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid. Messi posted a heartfelt goodbye on Instagram and also let rip at Barcelona again for the way the striker was “kicked out” of the club.
It’s not known yet Messi’s plans for the future or if this is his last season at the Camp Nou. His contract expires at the end of the campaign, meaning he will be able to walk away for free.
There’s a suggestion that the off-field events could well have affected Messi’s form, but fans can also be forgiven for wondering whether at the age of 33 one of the game’s true greats is finally starting to slow down.