Football News

The Lionel Messi problem at the heart of the Barcelona ‘crisis’, according to Arsene Wenger

By Ben Green

Published: 11:21, 7 November 2019

Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has attributed Barcelona’s ‘crisis’ to an over-reliance on Lionel Messi.  

The Argentina megastar shoulders too much responsibility according to Wenger, who has described Barca’s current style as “too slow”.

Why is Messi at the heart of Barca’s ‘crisis’? Five things to know… 

  • Barca have made a sluggish start to the season by their standards, despite sitting atop La Liga.
  • They have already conceded 14 goals and have lost three times in their opening 11 games.
  • Barca recently drew 0-0 against Slavia Prague in the Champions League, drawing further criticism.
  • The Catalan club have been accused of playing “dull” football, symptomatic of Valverde’s style.
  • Wenger has now suggested an over-reliance on Messi is the leading cause for Barca’s ‘crisis’.

Under Ernesto Valverde, the Catalan club have already lost three times in La Liga and followed up a weekend defeat to Levante with a goalless stalemate against Slavia Prague in the Champions League.

The pressure has naturally been building on Valverde, and Wenger believes he knows the root of the Barca manager’s recent woes: an unhealthy dependence on Messi continually stepping up.

“They’re top of the league, they’re top of their group, and they play like a team in crisis,” Wenger told beIN SPORTS.

“Their game is too slow. There is no dynamic in the last 30 metres, it’s too individual.

“Every time they lose the ball, it looks like they will concede a goal on the counterattack because they cannot deal with pace against the opponent… the team lacks dynamic, lacks energy, lacks confidence.

“Today it looks like they play and they wait for Messi to do something, but the basic strengths of the team play is a bit gone.

“And you think, when will Messi get the ball to do something? And before, the music, the basic music, was the fantastic team play, making it difficult to catch the ball, and then on top of that came Messi.”

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‘Valverde is guilty but not responsible’

Wenger went on to address who he believes should be held accountable for Barca’s current dip in playing style, believing Valverde must take some responsibility, but that he may not be the only culprit.

“At the end it’s always the coach who is guilty, he’s not always responsible,” Wenger added.

“There’s a difference between being guilty and responsible, you know?

“We said Valverde does not make the decision on who comes in. He has to do the best with what he has.

“So what we speak about raises many questions: who has the final word when you buy a player? Secondly, is this really the player that the team needs?”