Ex Nigerian international and former Barcelona player Emmanuel Amuneke is full of praise for six time world footballer of the year Lionel Messi for what he has done for the beautiful game of football and says Barcelona should be grateful even if he leaves at the end of the season.
Messi wanted to leave Barcelona at the end of last season but opted to stay because he didn’t want to leave the club that has given him everything and he has also given everything in an unceremonious way.
His contract is up in a few months and with nothing new in the reports even with the return of Joan Laporta to the club, he may be entering his final months at the club.
“From a holistic point of view, I could say Barcelona are blessed to have this kind of player,” Amuneke said during an Instagram live chat with Sunday Oliseh. “We got him early and he grew up in the system, then he became what he is today. Like you know, there’s always a beginning and an end.
Messi’s contract details was leaked by Spanish newspaper El Mundo in February and it reveals the huge amount the Argentine takes home yearly but Amuneke is looking at it from the perspective of what he generates to the club.
“What Messi earns, we should also look at what he generates to the club. That’s what people should see,” he said. “If Messi goes away from the team, all the fans from the marketing point of view will follow him to anywhere he is going.
Barcelona started the season slowly but have picked up in 2021 going on 19 games unbeaten before losing the El Clasico yesterday and Amuneke credits Messi for the resurgence by instilling confidence in the team.
“Messi felt from the beginning of the season that he needed good player around him that can compliment him. When you look at Barcelona in the beginning most of the players were not really transmitting confidence in terms of risk taking, it was all ball goes to Messi and you make it much easier for the opponent to defend very well
“He has been able in his own way as captain, he might be quiet, he might not be the type that talks too much but he has been able to in his own way. He has been able to transmit that confidence to the new players around him, especially the young players like Pedri, Trincao and others.
On if Messi leaves at the end of the season, Amuneke feels Barcelona and works football should be grateful for what he has done for football.
“If Messi leaves, we have to be grateful,” he said. “It’s going to be a very long time before we see this kind of player. Ronaldo came to Madrid too and he left but is doing the same work in Juventus.
“Even if Messi leaves whatever he has done has nothing to do with wherever he’s going, he has done a lot to the game.”
Amuneke likened Messi’s impacts and how he inspires generations of footballers to that of his fellow country man, the late Diego Maradona, who he said inspired his generation of footballers.
“When Maradona died, documentaries of him showed how he made people like us from poor backgrounds believe that if you work hard, you’ll make it. By being honest, having patience. If you believe you will make it and that’s exactly what Maradona did.”
“Messi will always be Messi, I pray he remains but that will be his decision and anywhere he goes it will be a welcome development.” Amuneke added.
Amuneke, who was a Barcelona player for four years between 1996 to 2000 also praised former player and manager Ronald Koeman for what he has done this season against all odds and when no one was convinced about him.
“There were a lot of doubts people were not really convinced. Koeman, people never gave him that possibility or credibility of turning things around but he has been able to drive the team on a positive side.”