La Liga will become a much poorer place if, as is expected, Lionel Messi leaves Barcelona this summer.
Messi has lit up the Spanish top-flight over the past 16 years and is one of the main reasons why millions of football fans from around the world have flocked to Camp Nou since 2004.
The legendary forward wants to leave the Catalan giants after losing faith in the sporting project at Barça under Josep Maria Bartomeu, the club’s current president.
Manchester City are in pole position to sign Messi, who has already spoken with Pep Guardiola, but a deal is not close as things stand.
Barcelona do not want to let Messi go, for understandable reasons, but may be forced to reach a compromise if their greatest ever player sticks by his guns.
One group of players who will still be buzzing about the news of Messi’s potential departure are the Real Madrid squad.
But how have they reacted to the news which has stunned the football world this week?
Well, like everyone else they’re in shock.
This is according to ESPN, who understand Madrid’s players immediately exchanged messages between each other on WhatsApp.
Los Blancos’ players are said to be “incredulous” when reports that Messi had formally notified his employers of his desire to leave surfaced on Tuesday.
And ESPN add that Madrid’s squad were still saying on Wednesday that they found it hard to believe Messi would follow through on his threat to walk away after nearly 20 years at Camp Nou.
Every member of the current Los Blancos squad joined after Messi made his Barcelona debut, including Sergio Ramos.
This means that none of Zinedine Zidane’s players have experienced El Clasico without the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
In fact, Zidane himself was in the Real Madrid line-up when Messi played his first Clasico.
Madrid’s current players are shocked at both the manner and timing of Messi’s attempt to force his departure, despite Barça’s 8-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
And you can guarantee he’ll be the name on every Madrid player’s lips when they return next week for pre-season training.
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