It’s tradition time in La Liga with another muddled Messi contract and a potty-mouthed match-up at Celta Vigo. Here’s Paco Polit with more tales from La Liga
Certainty is a luxury nowadays.
In this modern era of social media, half-baked news and people hurrying through their own lives, only a few things can be considered as set in stone. The sun will shine tomorrow. Taxes will burden you till the end of time. You will work your booty off in exchange for a too-low-to-believe salary. And, every couple of years, a contract extension for Lionel Messi will make the headlines.
Not that the little guy isn’t worth it. He is, after all, the best football player in the world (FIFA awards may try laughable attempts at disputing the matter, but they come off as cheap) and, arguably, one of the best the world has ever seen, right up there with Pelé and fellow Argentinean Diego Maradona.
FC Barcelona’s emblem is also at the top of his game right now, scoring for seven games straight. Talks towards extending his stay in the club that bet against the odds over fifteen years ago and launched his career seems about right. And, yet, this time the issue has been off to a rocky start.
A few days ago, Barça’s Head of Institutional Relations recklessly fired shots at the player when he got asked about his star’s situation: “Messi wouldn’t be so good without Iniesta or Neymar”, claimed Pere Gratacós. Messi, who hadn’t spoken about anything related to his contract, had little time to become angry, as president Bartomeu and the board demoted Gratacós from his management role in a flash.
Twelve hours after his rant, Gratacós was out of the picture. In such a delicate matter, Bartomeu knows he mustn’t cross Leo: it’s not as there are no clubs who have expressed interest in signing him (Guardiola’s Manchester City is one of the usual suspects).
Meanwhile, Messi keeps silent, even as fake news items appear in the last few days (the player’s camp denied having been interviewed by Coach Magazine, who promptly removed the bogus feature from their site) and the pressure surrounding the issue, with national and local media in a battle for scooping the current state of the talks, keeps increasing.
Even Leo Messi isn't immune to the spread of fake news https://t.co/D45kmhy06t
— Evan Bartlett (@ev_bartlett) January 18, 2017
Is he truly motivated to stay and keep driving Barcelona’s efforts to conquer yet another Champions League title beyond 2018? At what price? Will Barça’s board be able to pay the salary that the Argentinean thinks he deserves? Buckle up for what may become this year’s most convoluted soap-opera yet.
Orellana and Araujo turn things saucy in Vigo and Las Palmas
Besides the Messiesque affair in Barcelona, other Spanish football traditions include amazing tales of disobedience and unruly behavior that plague some sides from time to time. It happened last Christmas, when a video of Valencia’s captain Dani Parejo surfaced where he showed symptoms of having sipped an unspecified number of cocktails.
This week, two names have been at the spotlight: Chilean midfielder Fabian Orellana (Celta de Vigo) and Argentinean striker Sergio Araujo (Las Palmas). The former has been removed from the team’s roster by his coach ‘Toto’ Berizzo: their feud has been ongoing for many months and, reportedly, a few days ago the player told one of the manager’s assistants that the coach could “f*ck off” after being summoned to Berizzo’s office to talk about his behavior.
Celta coach Berizzo said yesterday that Fabián Orellana won't play again for the team as long as he is at the club. Woah. Huge blow.
— Sergi Domínguez (@FutbolSergi) January 18, 2017
In Araujo’s case, his problems are a bit more mundane: he was caught once again driving under the influence (the police had already caught him red-handed in September). The DUI report was made public last Wednesday, and the player had the brilliant idea of heading to his Twitter account to defend himself by stating that his positive happened because “enzymes fall asleep and they delay the alcohol from disappearing”. Yes, you read that right. La Liga never stops delivering.