FFT's Spanish correspondent Tim Stannard charts the fall-out from the current discontent at Camp Nou...
Well, this really is another fine mess that Barcelona have gotten themselves into. An impressive kerfuffle even by the historically fine standards of the Catalan club.
A year ago, Sandro Rosell left his post after the still-unresolved legal issues surrounding the signing of Neymar came to light.
Twelve months later and Josep Maria Bartomeu is now in hot water, having terminated the contract of Sporting Director Andoni Zubizaretta, a move which saw Carles Puyol opt to follow his boss out of the door.
On top of that, Bartomeu is dealing with an apparent falling-out between Leo Messi and Luis Enrique, not to mention the prospect of a Camp Nou clash against a belligerent Atlético Madrid next Sunday. Then there is the small matter of the FIFA transfer ban and a smorgasbord of other legal cases.
“If there is something that has been the mark of this side in over 100 years, it is a depressing tendency for self destruction,” was the lament from Josep Capdevila, writing a column in Sport entitled “This club will auto-destruct in 3, 2, 1...”.
That mood is largely mirrored elsewhere, with the Barcelona press making only the slightest suggestion that this is just a storm in a teacup that will die down over the next few days. “Total crisis!” screamed the front cover of Sport on Tuesday as it trawled through the ashes of a miserable Monday for the club.
Mundo Deportivo were equally doom-ridden, and focussed on what the paper sees as the collapsing relationship between Luis Enrique and Leo Messi. With the Argentinean apparently being a bit of a King Joffrey and wanting to do whatever he blooming well pleases under the pain of everyone else’s death, the footballer did not take the order to sit on the bench against Real Sociedad at all well.
Marca would certainly concur with that analysis, with the paper getting a handwriting ‘expert’ to suggest Messi’s signature hints at “a subtle sense of inferiority.”
The paper suggests Luis Enrique did not believe that Messi had the flu - the excuse given for the superstar's failure to appear at Monday's training session in front of a packed training ground, stuffed with supporters - and wanted to open an official investigation. Apparently the coach, whose job it supposedly is to restore some discipline to the dressing room, was talked down from that particular ledge by the team’s captains.
Similar stories are likely to seep through the media woodwork over the coming weeks as former allies sense the weakness of Bartomeu and start to move away from the ailing club president.
Although the Barça president is set to hold a press conference on Wednesday, as well as attend a board meeting to decide how best to deal with FIFA's transfer ban, there is no way of managing the perception that the current regime have failed the transition from the magical days of ‘Pep’s Dream Boys’ to a team that should have been based on the midfield talents of Thiago Alcantara and Cesc Fabregas.
Instead, Barça feel like a man famed for his flowing locks who is now facing the reality of rapid hair loss (and is banned by FIFA from getting plugs).