How would Lionel Messi fit in at Barça? Here are coach Xavi's plans

How would Lionel Messi fit in at Barça? Here are coach Xavi's plans

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Barça want to bring the forward back from Paris Saint-Germain this summer

The possible return of Lionel Messi opens a footballing debate about his fit in Xavi's Barcelona. Does it make sense to bring back the player who defined the previous project after two years of reconstruction? Is it possible to sustain the high-pressing model with Leo? Will he fit in with Lewandowski? What position would he occupy? These are questions that Xavi has asked himself, but the coach has no doubts: he is convinced that the team will make a qualitative leap forward and has explained to Messi what awaits him.

The coach already has in his head what he imagines Barça will do with Leo and where he can make the most of him. Xavi wants to offer him the best possible context and that goes through giving him freedom. His arrival would establish the formula of the four midfielders, although with a nuance: the famous square would change to a rhombus. Messi would be the playmaker with a double objective: to improve the life of the strikers but at the same time to be key in the possession game of the midfielders. 

Los planes de Xavi con Messi


The weaknesses Messi solves

For Xavi, he solves three of the team's major shortcomings this season: the lack of goals, the lack of clarity in the final third and the haste in the circulation of the ball. He also values the impetus he can give to some of his teammates. Already in his final season at Barça he showed that he has a special complicity with Pedri and Ansu. 

It would be a Barça where De Jong could be the deepest midfielder, with Pedri and Gavi as interiors and Messi closing the rhombus as a playmaker. Up front, two strikers like Dembélé and Lewandowski. A Barça where the inside play would once again have a lot of weight, after a season where they have played a lot on the outside. 

El once ideal de los octavos de final del Mundial

Xavi himself encouraged this trend at the start of the season with his commitment to Dembélé and Raphinha. An approach that he has been refining, renouncing a winger in many games to add an extra midfielder. In this Barça with Messi, he should find a balance and, in this sense, with Balde and Dembélé being key to finding solutions on the outside. 

The fit with Lewandowski

One of the doubts is to see how Lewandowski and Messi would complement each other, two veteran players who are more comfortable receiving to feet than with unmarked runs without the ball. 

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The World Cup proved once again that Leo needs players who can make breakaway runs around him. The case of Julián Álvarez is a good example of this. At the moment, Lewandowski is in favour of the Argentinian's return. He made this clear during the presentation of the book of Relatos Solidarios.

The high press

Another of the unknowns to be resolved is how the team compensates for Messi's lack of defensive continuity at this stage of his career. Xavi's job will be to ensure the Argentine has a very specific role in the pressing. 

If they are short runs, Messi has shown that he is a player with great intuition to win balls back. This will be one of Xavi's biggest challenges, to ensure that the team maintains one of the keys to this season: the pressing work has given Barça many goals this season.

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