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Where did it all go wrong for Lionel Messi and Barcelona?

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A painful divorce awaits

Lionel Messi Signs New Contract With FC Barcelona Photo by Miguel Ruiz/FC Barcelona via Getty Images

You must’ve had your collective heads in the sand if you can’t quite believe how Barcelona and Lionel Messi have got to the current, toxic state of their relationship.

The sense of shock is palpable of course, but it shouldn’t be at all surprising.

Our captain and best ever player has been dropping hints that all wasn’t well behind the scenes for months, much of it making its way into the public domain.

In isolation, a lot of what has happened in the last few years is standard fare for most football clubs.

Not strengthening in the right areas, managerial issues etc...

FBL-EUR-C1-BARCELONA-CELEBRATIONS Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images

Where things began to unravel for Barcelona and Leo can be traced right back to July 2015, however. The month when Josep Maria Bartomeu was legitimately elected as president of the club.

His opening gambit of hiring Arda Turan should’ve awoken culers from their collective slumber. Great player for Atleti though he was, he absolutely wasn’t a ‘Barca player.’

And that signing set the tone for a number if ill-advised purchases since.

Not to mention the systematic destruction of La Masia as we knew it. Think about just how many graduates have been let go these last five years and are now enjoying careers elsewhere.

Not all would’ve gone on to be Barca standard, granted, but it’s as if the academy hasn’t existed for the most part.

Perhaps the biggest bugbear on Messi’s part has to be the lack of a ‘winning project.’

The No.10 was 18 days short of his 28th birthday when Barca last lifted the Champions League. Domestic league and cup wins aside, that the Blaugranes have essentially wasted his prime years as a player is a travesty.

Barcelona v Bayern Munich - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Photo by Manu Fernandez/Pool via Getty Images

He is as culpable as every other player for the exits at the hands of Juventus, Roma, Liverpool and Bayern, and his body language towards the end of the latter was unforgivable, but in at least two of those games he was badly let down by those around him.

Not forgetting managerial appointments which haven’t exactly inspired too, even if we are led to believe that Messi had nothing but respect for Ernesto Valverde.

How many times have we, as supporters, felt that Leo has been carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders? That he’s been the talisman that everyone has turned to when the going got tough.

Barca are a ship without a rudder at present and have been for a while, and they’ve seemingly no idea where they’re headed.

They’re certainly not the world beaters they were five years ago.

The 8-2 just brought everything into sharper focus and, when the dust settles, can you really blame Messi for wanting to leave? Is it really any wonder he’s had enough?