Barcelona fans in shock at Messi's departure, saying 'it's like a family member has died', but some believe he will stay

ON the beaches and streets and in the bars of Barcelona, it's like a king has died. But there is no heir to the throne with the number 10 on the back.

The locals kind of knew their man with the golden boots was struggling and there was a chance he could pass on but there was hope, his heart still beat to the rhythm of the Barca drum and the news coming out of the club had been hopeful for weeks now.

Most fans thought the contract just needed a nice waft of air to dry the ink and a signature, a quick smile for the cameras and a handshake with the president 'y vamos'.

Nope. Now, it seems, Lionel Messi's name will be on no more FC Barcelona contracts. That's it, it's all over. Oh dear.

Joan Fuster was sitting on a promenade bench a couple of miles from the Nou Camp pitch looking into the Mediterranean sea, for sure he's a Barca fan because he has an FC Barcelona club badge tattoo covering most of his upper back.

The man, it's fair to say, is shell shocked.

"I feel sick," he told The Sun. "I just got a text from a mate saying Messi and the club couldn't agree a deal. What? I thought it was done? Yeah, there are financial problems and all that but what a load of bull****. Leo Messi is the best player that has ever lived and he should never wear another club's shirt. It's like someone in the family has died.

"It's not right, it's just not f***ing right! Antoine Griezmann stays and Messi goes? You can't build a Barca side around Griezmann. He loves his hair more than the club shirt. I don't know what happens next. It's a mess."

Meritxell Reus is another fan, sitting in a chiringuito – a beach bar – sipping a small beer with friends and watching the sun go down. "Come on, let's get realistic here eh. Yeah, he's a great player but he's way past his prime," she told The Sun.

"And I don't buy any of this loyalty crap. It's all about money. Money, money, money. The pot has run dry for Leo Messi but he's been sucking cash out of the club long enough. He should pay back in.

"Now he'll get a couple of years elsewhere on a load of money. Good riddance, he cost too much anyway. He's in the past, move on."

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The club president Joan Laporta, he's had the job before but has only been in the post this time around for a few months, kind of built his bid for a return to the top job off the back of his ability to keep the club talisman.

Many of the TVs in peoples houses and in the bars are switched on to the news. Again, just like the death of a monarch.

"You know what, though?" Pere Munoz told The Sun with the TV blaring overhead at a hot dog bar near the beach in a Catalan heartland suburb of Badalona. "Just watch this space. I don't believe it for a minute. Messi's dad Jorge plays this game with his son like a mafia don every time the contract needs to be renewed, and he has done for years.

"I'll believe Lionel Messi has left Barca the second he pulls on a Manchester City or Paris St Germain shirt, and not a second before. It might even be Messi and the club playing a game with La Liga."


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