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[00:00:00]

Thursday Night Football with Jon Giles. Johnny Giles is a national treasure when he speaks. I mean, I'm like, yes, yes, yes, when he's on the show. I was in the car the other day, parked the car, and I sprinted into the house and turned on the radio. I love listening to him. I love Johnny Giles.

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John Giles. Every Thursday at seven thirty PM on OTV Sports Radio Live 24/7 on the go load up the OTB podcast network OTB.

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And this is OTB Sports Radio.

[00:00:38]

Andy West is with us and he is also best known as the author of Lionel Messi and the Art of Living. How is how is Lionel Messi living these days? Andy, what's going on?

[00:00:51]

He's not very happy and there's a sure way of putting it. Yeah, I'm not going to talk about my book. That's not the point of this. But that the reason I wrote the book in that way, because I think we can look at his life, his career and get a great deal out of it that we can relate to. And this is a prime example here. We have arguably the greatest footballer ever going through a personal professional crisis.

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He's reached the point where despite being with a magnificent club where he's enjoyed incredible success and recognition and riches, he feels there is no way for him to continue that and that he has to force his way out of this club and I think is absolutely genuine.

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There's very little question that this is a game that he's using it for a contract or as a power player or anything like that. He just wants to leave because he's had enough and he is in a in a bad place right now and he just wants to get out of it and get into a better situation.

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It's it's madness to think that Barcelona have been sitting on a team with the best player in the world backboned by a team who was good enough to win a World Cup for Spain and that they've underachieved and invested so chronically over the last five years to the point where they're forcing the best thing that's ever happened to them to leave. It's madness. It is madness and it's a series of bad decisions dating back, I'd say, 10 years since Sandra Rowsell took over as president.

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And back then, if we think back not just to the football that they played on the radio, but that the image the whole club had as far as Mesko Club, they didn't have a sponsor. They gave it to UNICEF. They were that kind of club. Everyone admired them for their values as well as for their football. But all of that has been eroded. Everything has has been destroyed, really, by firstly Rowsell.

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And then by tomorrow, the current president, who really is the author of this demise by making bad, bad decisions. And you wonder why he made such bad decisions. Is it just incompetence?

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I think that's the kindest thing we could say, is that he is well-meaning, trying to do his best for the club, but he's incompetent. He's out of his depth. He can't cope with this level of pressure that he doesn't have the intelligence to make good decisions. He doesn't have the force of personality to make good decisions under pressure.

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And he has made a series of terrible recruitment decisions that eventually have caught up with the team. And yes, this is obviously the final straw in the destruction of the team. But it's been coming. We've seen it over many years. Going back to when they lost that game at PSG. Yes, they somehow turn that around. The famous victory to to win the tie. But the writing was on the wall at that point and has continued every time they've come up against top quality opposition ever since they've crumbled.

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And it's just been getting worse and worse and worse. And this is just the latest in a long trend.

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And if they manage to sell a message by Friday, they will have got rid of a manager or a sporting director and their best ever player in the space of a fortnight. It will have been one of the most extraordinary s destructions influenced by the top of the head of a football club that we've ever seen in modern football. We kind of spoke about this earlier on in the show. But this how is this allowed to happen? Basically, is the question that I would certainly have not being around the club, not knowing exactly the inside fabric of the club, that one individual can really have such a destructive impact on the club.

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Yes, as I said, it's a couple of minutes ago, is that just bad decisions and one of those bad decisions? Yeah, messy isn't completely innocent in this. He has been granted and taken too much power, too much influence over the direction of the club. And they've been caught between the directors led by bottom. I have been caught between trying to do what they think is best for the long term future of the club, often in a wildly ineffective and knee jerk way, such as signing.

[00:05:19]

Coutinho never looked like he was going to fit in at Barcelona for a huge amount of money, but being caught between trying to do the best for the club in their way and trying to keep Messi happy by doing things like not benching Luis Suarez or selling him when they could have done. You know, if you think back to Manchester United in the way they were able to stay at the top for so long under Sir Alex Ferguson, it's because he made ruthless decisions as soon as he felt that a player or a group of players were becoming too big to influential, bigger than the club, he would just get rid of them with no hesitation.

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And Barcelona haven't done that. They've allowed the team to stagnate and become decadent. I think that's the word. They become gone into decay, through decadence, through complacency, through not making the hard decisions about how to rebuild the team. When they still have the chance to before it became too late, now it's way too late. That's exactly the Barcelona that Leo Messi came into where Ronaldinho was eating ice cream, a training essentially where he was partying. And he was he was bringing the young Messi out partying to the point where they they came in and were like, OK, you've got to go.

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You have to go, because you're going to bring Messi down a path that will actually be bad for him. It's funny. This club is just addicted to. The celebrity and the fame and the money and the like. It reminds me a little bit of Miami, just just the buying of I don't know if you've seen all those documentaries about Miami exploding and the cocaine money and like the decadence is the thing that ultimately decays the whole city that prevent it from ever becoming this amazing place that it could be.

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And it feels like Barcelona is just trapped in this endless cycle.

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Finally, they seem to reach some level of where they should be at when they had the best player in the world and the best team in the world. And they won two Champions Leagues in four seasons. But Peccadillo walked away from it. And actually, you know, you're talking misandrist. If they could have just said, OK, take a year out, go and travel the world, go and live in America, learn your English in New York, but come back to us.

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We'll keep the hot seat warm for you. Come back to us. Maybe this could have been saved. Maybe, but he already saw what was coming because he did not have a good relationship with Sandra Rowsell, who was the president at the time, that wasn't the president who recruited him. He came in under the previous president, Joan Laporta, and had a great relationship with him.

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But then when Rowsell took over, Guadaloupe already saw where it was potentially going.

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The one thing I think we should we should mention as the great watershed moment in Barcelona's recent history. Yes. As you say, if Guajardo had been persuaded to stay or have a sabbatical and come back, maybe that would have changed things, but so, too, could have been if Tito Villanova hadn't passed away. He was gladiolas assistant and his successor, he was the one who had been through that era and was the continuity. He had a big personality.

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He had the courage to make big decisions. Then tragically, halfway through his first season in charge after after Gladiola left, Villanova was the manager doing very well. Messi was playing better than ever. He had a recurrence of cancer and passed away a year or so later. That a tragedy on a personal level, obviously, for for his family to to lose someone so young in his 40s and for the club. What would have happened if Tito Villanova had been able to have four or five years as a Barcelona manager and continue what whatever it started with Tito at his side?

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That is, if we want to look at the big picture, the great What-If moment. And there's to be kind of devil's advocate to this whole idea that, you know, the Messiah has been screwed over by the clock here, a lot of us being devil's advocate in the shape of Luis Suarez. And you mentioned how his client is a footballer has been noticed. But in recent years he is not at the level right now. A lot of people will argue to lead Barcelona from the front to go and win a Champions League.

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However, Lionel Messi is extremely loyal to Luis Suarez. The way he has been immediately treated by Ronald Coleman apparently doesn't sit well with Lionel Messi. Should there not be questions of Lionel Messi in that situation about him? I guess sulking and eventually sending as this part of that being, that part of his reasoning to leave the club because of the fact that Luis Suarez has immediately been cast aside by Ronald Cummings. Those are not need to be a question around that.

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Should Messi allows Suarez to leave because he isn't as Messi level anymore?

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Yeah, but he's not just leaving.

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The Luis Suarez has been told that he's on his way out, that one of the many, many factors he reportedly wasn't happy with, his own conversation with Cuban and Cuban, we're hearing told him you're no longer going to get any privileges.

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I'm going to be inflexible with you. It's not just about about Luis Suarez. But as I said a few minutes ago, yes, Messi is not completely blameless in this. And there have been accusations against him for years that he is too powerful in the dressing room. The nickname that sometimes appears is the little dictator that goes back years. And he first surfaced, as far as I can recall, just off the Titova and over you mentioned a minute ago, had to leave the club and they went through a period of great uncertainty with weak leadership in the dressing room and in the boardroom.

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And, yes, Messi hasn't been blameless in that respect. And he's always been at his best when he's played under strong leaders, Pep Guardiola, Luis Enrique, in particular, the two managers who got the best out of him, that the two strongest personalities he's played on, who've not taken any nonsense, who've told him this is what we're doing. But Messi has reacted in the way that he has and taken that level of responsibility, too much responsibility because he's felt he's had to because he's seen the Gulf in leadership, that they lack of authority around him and felt, well, if I don't do this, no one else is going to I'm going to have to try and pick up this this team on my own.

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This is the same thing we've seen with Argentina, exactly the same that when they have been a shambles, as they generally have been throughout his time as an as an international, that's when he's been at his worst because he's tried to do too much exactly what happened in the last World Cup. They were horribly unprepared. Messi thought the only way they've got any success is if I try to do everything myself. And it backfired, as it only inevitably can in the team sport.

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So, yes, he's not been blameless because he tried to take on too much himself. That's only because he's felt that he's had to.

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What's your belief on how this contract situation is going to go? Because if the tables were turned here, and I'm sure you'd agree that if his contract expired this summer, he would have been asked to play the remainder of the season. Barcelona would have said, well, the season isn't over. You're playing right up until the end of August. Now that the tables are set on this correct manner, surely Barcelona should also play by those rules. Well, it depends on the interpretation of this clause, which will quickly become one of the most famous contract clauses in sporting history that allows him to leave the club free with no obligations at the end of the season if he notifies them at the end of the season.

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He claims he's just done that. The club claim that the clause is due is when it has to tell him, which in normal circumstances obviously is the end of the season. And I believe the wording in the contract even states the date the 10th of June, in which case Misys claim that he's done it now and that it's valid because the end of the season has just happened and that it should be taken into account that the whole season was rescheduled because of covid, et cetera, et cetera.

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That argument probably won't stand up in the court of law, which is where this is likely to head. Barcelona are very unlikely to say, OK, yeah, we'll let you off then. Off you go. Yeah, you leave for now.

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And anyway, why should they if he wants to leave, they should try and get money out of it to make a lot of money for a club. We don't have any. So, yeah, but Messi likewise isn't going to back down and say, okay, I'll stand by that. Forget my clause. I will wait until someone negotiates or brings 700 million. So it's probably going to end up in a court of law to see how this clause is interpreted and then we'll have to take it from that.

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Presumably, some deal gets done in a back channel between Barcelona, Messi and whoever is willing to make an investment in him. And a price gets hammered out because it will be demeaning for Barcelona to be in court with their greatest ever player, who at some point in the future, they will still want to sell jerseys with Messi on the back of, you know, the 20th anniversary of Leo Messi. Winning something is a lot of future revenue for the club.

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If they get to the point where they've humiliated him in court. Unlikely. I mean, they've got to play a long game here as well. Yeah, but we've got to separate the club, Barcelona that you're talking about, the long term institution that will survive this and that will always hold Messi is a special part of the club's history and about the precedent. This is personal, and he is the one who will decide how the club deals with this.

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He loves a court battle when recently one of his directors resigned and made some allegations about him. His first reaction, take him to court. That's what Bottommost does. It's not about Barcelona as a club. It's about what Buttermaker wants to do. And he has a lot at stake in not backing down and trying to be messy in. This is personal between them now. So Bartolome will want to go the legal route and what the wider club and its fans want to do is sadly pretty much irrelevant in a few months.

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That also becomes irrelevant because Buttermaker will leave when his tenure comes to an end and a new president, and then the club can maintain its relationship with Messi, who by then would have probably gone. But for now, it's about Timo who is saving face and trying to save money because of this story, that if he leaves with the club in indebt, then he personally would be liable to repaying the club.

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So he has to sort out the club's finances before he leaves, which is why he's not just resigning now, OK?

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I mean, that's a good point that we probably should have aired before now that there is this weird scenario where if the club is in hock, the directors who put it in hock are actually on the hook for the debt. So, yeah, and Barcelona have invested so horrifically in recent seasons. The notion of them getting money back for the ballet or Greisman or Catina at the moment seems quite fanciful. So, you know, if you can get if you get some money from Messi, you've got to understand what price is Leo Messi on the open market right now?

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The hundred million comes to mind, that was a figure that the Renaldo went to Ventus, wasn't it? And I think that would be a figure.

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And it's it's there's egos involved. And Messi would not want to be valued in Cristiano Ronaldo. And it seems a fair amount for a player who would still give two, three, maybe more great years. He is still an astonishing player. I think it would be an acceptable just about fate for Barcelona to accept the path to my own, to accept it would be an acceptable valuation for Messi to to be seen as the same as Cristiano any less Real Madrid.

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And it would be just about acceptable for buying club it. It's not unrealistic for for PSG, a man city or an Inter Milan to pay that level. So around 100 million. That would be my guess.

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So wouldn't Jaiden Sanjo plus 20 million. All right. All right. Leo Messi plus 20 million equals Jaden Sancerre these days.

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You know, suddenly 100 million seems just a big deal for a few clubs going crazy, maybe catapult ourselves into the stratosphere of super close. If you're Daniel Levy, do you think. No liquids, no forget that judge, a Marine. No way. All right.

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I like your style, but, you know, I'm sorry we got my way.

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It's like so there is a possibility around the of a middle ground because initially when you look at reports, it's going to be for free or for 700 million euro. But there may be a gentlemen's agreement involving thank you, gentlemen, that might actually do something in the region of one hundred two hundred and fifty million euro.

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Yeah, I think that will probably be the way it will be because Messi won't want to sit out the season and then leave for nothing as he will be entitled to because his contract is up next summer. He won't want to just not play this season, so he'll want to get a deal done. It's unlikely that he will win the court case that would allow him to leave for nothing, which would open up a huge range of potential clubs who otherwise might feel themselves priced out.

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So for everyone Barcelona to make some money out of it, Messi to be able to play this season and clubs to be able to buy him, then, yeah, middle ground that that's you know, we've seen it time and time again. When you have disaffected players who want to leave the club clubs and want to sign in other clubs who are prepared to make a style if the price is right. It's what happens in football all the time. This is an extraordinary case because it's a little messy, but ultimately it will just be a footballer leaving a club and that middle ground will be found, as it always is.

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We assume Manchester City and we assume Paris are in the sweepstakes at this point or any other inter have made noises and apparently have long lost it after Leo Messi and have made overtures since he was a teenager. Are there any other realistic if there is a transfer fee involved, are there any other realistic protagonists in this at the moment? The only other one I'd add is Manchester United, which is a bit of an outlier because we talk about Manchester United and the transfer market and everybody starts laughing.

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They've not exactly covered themselves in glory in the last few years, and they're probably the least favorite. And those are the candidate clubs. It's the three you mentioned city PSG. And my personal hunch is for is for Inter, but United have to be considered. And there's an interesting reason why I think they have to be considered in March. The biggest sports story of the year at the time it's now been eclipsed was in the states where the legendary quarterback Tom Brady, one of the greatest players in American football history, left the New England Patriots and joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Big, Big Sean, who owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Glazers. So when they make these moves, they make big moves. They may see what they did in Tampa and they will do the Tom Brady of football. Now, it's a possibility. It's unlikely, but it's a possibility.

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I think it makes a lot of sense. I actually like from even from a playing perspective, it makes a lot of sense.

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Like when you look at Salchows career, there were always a multiplicity of striking options for Ferguson. Whenever he looked at the bench, there was always somebody there. So guess he doesn't want to play 60 games a season. He didn't have to play 60 games a season. He can play in all of the Home Champions League games and any of the away championship games against good teams. He can then play in the thirty five or thirty league games that are vitally important.

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You never play them in the cup, you never play them in the league cup and he can play any one of those front three. So whoever is coming in, everybody's playing the same mental games. And and next time you go shopping in Dortmund, they're like actually we'll give them to you for eighty million because we understand you don't need them anymore.

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And what Messi needs is and this has been Buster's problem and it was really highlighted in the Champions League, that famous game going by what Messi needs is young kids around in the long run, because football now has evolved even in the last ten years since Quadrio was great team, it's become much more athletic, much more dynamic.

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Look at the physical strength, the bodies of players. Now, when you compare people like Senator Biscuit's and Jordi Alba, that just physically with that, the Biomes and Barcelona don't have that. That's one of the main reasons that they've fallen off a cliff so dramatically, is that they don't have athleticism. They're full of old players in their thirties, united. They have all these youngsters who could allow Messi to not run, allow him to to be the luxury player up front and do all these running for him, all the buzzing around him.

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It could work. It could work. It it would be a massive challenge for Sochua coaching to get that to work, to get the balance right. But, yeah, in a football sense, in that way, it could be a good fit as well, because you've got the macho Rashford Greenwood. These these young kids will be happy to do the running for Messi and receive his glorious assists and set him up the chances that he'll take. So, yeah, maybe Manchester United.

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So they're in the mix. You think the Inter are the most likely. So if we were to rank those women United for Peace, mind three said to enter one, is that right? Yeah, yeah, I'd go with that and I think in two of the most likely because they've been the most persistent, they've got the money, they're owned by a Chinese corporation with no claims of money.

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They're desperate to get back to the top in Italy, firstly to nine legs in a row that they're desperate to and that they weren't far off this year. And their president has spoken openly about wanting to sign Messi. This is his chance. It's there for him.

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So if they want, they can get it. And Italy might appeal to Messi culturally more than than Manchester. So I just put it into his favorites.

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And, ah, you get a new chapter for the next version of your book, Workplace Disputes, as as as directed by Leo Messi.

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Yeah. Or Lionel Messi and the art of leaving someone said, adding itself.

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Thanks for joining us this morning. Cheers. Thank you.

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Jesús OTB. Hey, this is OTB Sports Radio. That was an OTB podcast network presentation.