Messi smashed the woodwork thrice in Barcelona’s 2-0 league victory against Real Betis on Sunday, every time with strengthened vigour. His facial expressions were non-existent throughout the 90 minutes. The Argentine showed no emotions as he wreaked havoc on Betis defence in search of the goal he was striving for. Normally when someone hits the goal post, their facial symmetry shows signs of disappointment. Messi had a straight face, as straight as an arrow. Some speculation spread that his emotionless aura was out of respect for the victims of Barcelona attack couple of days earlier. Makes a lot of sense. But there were also suggestions that Messi was unhappy with the Barcelona administration and with his contract negotiations hanging in the balance, there remains a speculation, a slight one, that the Argentine might follow the footsteps of Neymar and leave Barcelona. Manchester City poses the greatest threat to Barcelona of penning Messi’s signature. The English club has been linked to the Argentine for years, but to absolutely no avail and latest reports suggest that City are more than willing to pay Messi’s buyout fee. So, will Messi leave Barcelona? Will the English league finally get to see football’s Leonardo da Vinci? A new challenge Many people believe that Messi needs a new challenge, because he has already achieved everything at Barca and since the club is a sinking ship, Messi should hop on to a lifeboat from England and sail away. Having achieved everything club football has to offer, it might be possible that Messi searches for a new challenge to fuel his enthusiasm. A new club, new jersey and fans, all of it seems exciting, but Messi’s new challenge is not a different club, but just about the club he has been the frontrunner of over the years. Barcelona are crippled, handicapped and broken at this moment. They have seen their Messi for the future fly away to Paris. Iniesta, the orchestrator of Barca’s magical football is deteriorating. Suarez has been misfiring lately and on top of that, is injured and will remain so for around 6 weeks. Messi would never find a challenge more self-defining as Barcelona’s ordeal of current. The Argentine, who has enjoyed immense success with the club once regarded invincible, now has a strenuous task ahead. His role is more significant than ever, and to pull Barca out of their misery, Messi has to stand up and front. It is Messi’s greatest challenge thus far, to lead Barcelona when the club needs him the most and especially when Real Madrid have become ever so colossal. Home is where Camp Nou is For years, Messi has regarded Barcelona’s historic stadium as his home. A home that has established him as one of the world’s greatest if not the greatest. It has been more than a decade since he started his career as a professional, at the highest level and there is only one colour he has worn throughout his club career: the red and blue of the blaugranas. He loves the place. Adores it, in fact, and even after 13 years of wearing this jersey at the top level, he enters the playing field with the same pride and passion. “Barcelona is my home because both the club and the people here have given me everything.” The Argentine had said earlier in July. Who would want to leave home? And more to that, who would want to leave home when it’s crumbling? Not Messi. There have been moments in past where Messi was unhappy, with the board, with the policies, but not once did he think about leaving the club. He cares about the club so much that he offered Neymar to lead Barcelona in order to convince the Brazilian to stay. He has also confirmed on multiple occasions that Barcelona is where he will always be and if Barcelona decides to let him go, he would prefer a move to his childhood club in Argentina – Newell Old Boys. Manchester City have tried, for three years now, but Messi is priceless beyond definition for Barcelona. What would become of Barca? Imagine if Messi leaves, to Manchester, what would be left of Barcelona? Or the Spanish league altogether? Messi’s presence is not only vital to Barcelona but to Spain. Having the two best figures in football e.g. Messi and Ronaldo is a monetary victory for Spain’s La Liga. People from all around the world travel to Spain to watch games, millions of Messi and Ronaldo shirts are sold every year and the television ratings skyrocket every time the two play or collide. Neither Barcelona nor Spain can afford such a loss. Moreover Messi’s departure would mean a team that was once named best ever would have to swallow the bitter pill of being called mediocre. Without Messi, Barcelona will have to reconstruct and that might take years. Real Madrid’s domination needs a Messiesque challenge and Barca know that. Until and unless Barcelona administration force him out of the club, and in other words commit political suicide, Messi stays. Leave, but what for? Money? He is one of the richest footballers in the world. Trophies? 8 League titles, 5 spanish cups, 6 super cups, 4 champions leagues, 3 UEFA super cups, 3 FIFA club world cups. Awards? 5 Balon d’Ors, 4 European golden shoe and hundreds more. Of course he is yet to have the honour of playing in a cold night at Stoke, but for that the English club will have to qualify for the champions league and face Barcelona. And as far as challenges are concerned, as said before, to hold a crumbling Barcelona together against an ever improving, an ever dominant Real Madrid side is, by far, Messi’s biggest club team challenge yet.