Relations between Luis Enrique and Lionel Messi are broken. They don't speak. And it's not the result of a bad moment, of a bad day. The story is long, very long. In fact, it goes back to the first press conference of the Asturian coach. That day, Enrique confirmed roundly that he was "the team leader". It's a phrase that stunned not only the Argentine but most of the Barcelona squad. They were amazed that the new coach didn't have words for the players who had made Barcelona the best team in history. Messi chose to remain silent. He waited as the story evolved in the following weeks, along with other members of the squad who held that opinion.
Having already seen two of his best friends, Cesc Fabregas and Jose Manuel Pinto leave the club, he learned that Luis Enrique had asked technical team member Pepe Costa to leave the first team squad. Costa is a close friend of Messi and the Argentine was stunned when he heard what was happening. There were days of uncertainty in which he wondered what to do about Costa. Bartomeu was surprised at the discomfort caused by firing kitman Txema Corbella earlier on, so he stopped the removal of Costa to try and relieve tension.
The next confrontation between Leo Messi and Luis Enrique came after the match between Barcelona and Celta Vigo at the Camp Nou, which resulted in the first defeat at home in La Liga this season. After the game, the two met in the locker room. Messi reproached the coach who he believed had not played the right team to help Barcelona play their best football. Leo believed Enrique should have gone for players that helped create Barca's usual style.
From that moment, the relationship between the two froze over. Coach and star player stopped talking. Two personalities clashed and nobody knew how to remedy the situation.
This wasn't the first time Messi has had a confrontation with a coach. Wirh Guardiola, he had his ups and downs several times over four years, but on those occasions he always had the advice of Paco Seirul.lo or the late Tito Vilanova to help remedy the situation. It is now impossible because Messi does not hold Unzue, Joaquin Valdes or Roberto Moreno in good light - he ignores them.
FROM BAD TO WORSE
Events have precipitated in recent days. The training meeting on Friday January 2 saw Luis Ernique and Messi insulting each other, in a session open to the families and friends of the players. Soon after the faced each other in the locker room after defeat by Real Sociedad, at Anoeta. Messi showed his dissatisfaction at being made a substitute and having to come on at half time.
The icing on the cake came during the open training session for the fans on Monday. At 10.30 am, with Messi nowhere to be seen, Enrique asked Pepe Costa to call him on the phone. When he didn't answer, Enrique commanded Costa to call Antonella, but she also did not respond.
At this moment, Enrique wanted to punish the player for a serious act of indiscipline, although the club denies this. He wanted to make an example out of Messi with the punishment but the team captains convinced him to back-track and met with Messi on Wednesday morning to calm the situation.