Furious club fans protest at Nou Camp over Argentine’s intended departure

Friday, August 28th, 2020 00:00 |
FC Barcelona fans walk into the Camp Nou stadium premises in Barcelona on Wednesday night after Barca’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi announced his desire to leave the club. Lionel Messi’s bombshell request to leave Barcelona is expected to spark a legal battle over a multi-million-dollar buy-out clause but also raises the question of which club could afford him in the heat of the coronavirus pandemic. Photo/AFP

Barcelona, Thursday

Barcelona supporters angered by the running of the club have pushed through the Nou Camp gates as their protests continued for a second day in the city.

Fans want the club’s board, headed by president Josep Bartomeu, to stand down after a dismal season that saw two sackings, losing the title to rivals Real Madrid and an embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Now Barca are in danger of losing their long-serving talisman Lionel Messi after the Argentine told the club he wants to leave on a free transfer this summer amid the ongoing chaos, and loyal supporters have been gathering at their world famous ground to vent their fury.

Hundreds flocked to the Nou Camp on Tuesday night in support of Messi after his falling out with Bartomeu, with chants being yelled demanding the hierarchy be ousted and signs unfurled.

Protests escalated on Wednesday as fans entered the stadium grounds, with security personnel powerless to stop them.

One official was pictured attempting to thwart an individual before the huge crowd push past him and into the complex.

Another group were seen mounting the top of the gates holding up a banner demanding that Bartomeu stand down.

Despite uproar over his performance at the club, Bartomeu is entitled to stay with the club until the 2021 presidential elections next year - with some fans attempting to force a vote of no confidence against him before then.

Bartomeu has made a number of key players available for sale, including the likes of Gerard Pique, Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba with new boss Ronald Koeman expected to ring the changes in the wake of the shock thrashing by Bayern.

The president has also fallen out with Messi, who is ready to quit Catalonia despite spending his entire career with Barca after his relationship with the board reached breaking point.

Manchester City are seen as the front runners to seal an astonishing deal for the Argentine superstar in a move that could see him reunited with Pep Guardiola.

Messi believes he can move on a Bosman due to a clause in his contract, but Barca insist he has another year on his deal with a release clause of £629million.

Meanwhile, Manchester City who have emerged as the front runners to snap up the Argentine because of his relationship with boss Pep Guardiola, know they have to tread carefully.

FIFA would allow them to sign Messi while he is still in dispute with Barcelona over whether or not he is a free agent.

But they would risk being hit with sanctions and a huge transfer bill if FIFA ruled at a later date in Barcelona’s favour.   -AFP

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