On the latest Transfer Talk Podcast, Spanish football expert Terry Gibson says he expects Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona, but Zinedine Zidane and Sergio Ramos could leave Real Madrid.
The transfer story of last summer was a potential Barcelona exit for Messi, although after publicly announcing his intention to leave, soon decided to stay for another year.
It coincided with the appointment of Ronald Koeman as manager with the influential Barcelona presidential elections set to take place later this year after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned.
Gibson expects Messi to continue at Barcelona after the end of this season – even with a clause in his contract allowing him to leave for free – and has praised Koeman’s approach to using young talent.
He told the Transfer Talk Podcast: “The Messi situation hasn’t changed. The Barcelona presidential elections have been delayed again due to coronavirus, but Juan Laporta looks to be favourite and he believes he can satisfy what Messi wants.
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“I’ll be honest: I don’t see a desperation from Messi to leave Barcelona. It’s a different project right now – up until the Spanish Super Cup when he lost his temper, things had been going well again. They have been inconsistent – Koeman has found it difficult in his first season but he’s had a clear-out and he’s been bold.
“Barcelona now have some special young players and that might be enough to convince Messi to hang around a bit longer. He’s been in good form and his relationship with Koeman is good – he can see where the club are trying to head.
“Man City and PSG will still be interested and Messi has a choice but I still believe there’s a possibility he’ll stay and become the leader of this vibrant new Barcelona. How good will they become in the second half of this season? It will be interesting. Messi can then take a judgement.
“All the presidential candidates have been realistic with their proposals and no one has suggested anything about bringing in a new manager. It’s been hard for Koeman to win over the fans but people are now seeing that this is a season of transformation and it’s going to take time.
“Many managers would have come in and stuck with the senior players but Koeman has put people like Pedri in; Ronald Araujo is a terrific centre-half and has been playing regularly due to the absence of Gerard Pique. In the Copa del Rey, they’ve also used a teenager called Ilaix Moriba, who looks a fantastic player. Konrad de la Fuente looks special.
“Barcelona aren’t going to win the league this year and probably aren’t going to win the Champions League but people can see where Koeman is trying to take it, giving young players their opportunity. But this is a hugely important election because frankly, the last people in charge of the club made a mess of it.”
Zidane and Ramos to leave Real in the summer?
There is also change afoot at Real Madrid, although in contrast to El Clasico rivals Barcelona, there could be key departures.
Zidane led Real Madrid to the La Liga title last season, with Ramos continuing to play a key role. However, the captain has yet to sign a contract extension beyond the end of this season, and Gibson believes the two could leave in the summer.
He added on the Transfer Talk Podcast: “I don’t think Real Madrid will rush into a change now but I think Zidane will be moved on at the end of the season. They won the league last season but the fan mood is that this should be his last season as coach.
” It has irritated the fans and the Madrid media that they have lost some good players due to the fact Zidane is so loyal and faithful to the older group. All of a sudden, Zidane puts in a group of players in the Copa del Rey that have barely played this season. Marcelo, Eder Militao, Isco came in but have barely played.
“Federico Valverde has made a real impact as a box-to-box player but has been jettisoned. Vinicius has drifted away from the starting XI. They shouldn’t be losing to Alcoyano but the players weren’t match fit and then they were scrambling to throw on the big guns at the end. It doesn’t reflect well on Zidane.
“Could this be Ramos’ final season too? I’m going to be bold and say yes. I think there’s going to be a changing of the guard at Real Madrid and I think it will be a common theme that the legends don’t see out their career at the Bernabeu.
“Ramos is in great shape – he looks like the player of 10 years ago. He’s the leader on the pitch and off it. He will be a massive loss. But everyone concerned with Real Madrid is getting slightly bored with the old guard – they want change, new players given opportunities and I think Sergio Ramos could be a casualty of this attitude
” As opposed to him leading a new cycle, I think he could be allowed to move on because they won’t offer him a two-year deal. Any big club in Europe dismissing him because of his age, my advice would be don’t. He’s playing as well as ever and has another 100 or so games in him at the top level, I believe.”