Barcelona engulfed in 'crisis' after Andoni Zubizarreta exit - media
The big-name departures from Barcelona appear far from over, according to local media reporting on the latest serious institutional crisis to grip the Camp Nou.
Monday morning saw talisman Lionel Messi not show for the traditional Christmas public training session, with the Argentine reportedly having rowed with coach Luis Enrique when not selected to start the previous night's 1-0 La Liga defeat at Real Sociedad.
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A few hours later the club announced that sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta had been fired, with the former Barca goalkeeper having heavily criticised club president Josep Maria Bartomeu when speaking on Canal Plus immediately after the Anoeta defeat.
That was quickly followed by Zubizarreta's assistant, and recently retired legendary defender, Carles Puyol announcing he was leaving the club immediately, in apparent support of his friend.
The day of drama was unsurprisingly reflected in some very concerned coverage in the Catalan sports media on Tuesday morning. Sport's cover read "Total Crisis," above photos of Bartomeu, Zubizarreta, Luis Enrique, Messi and Puyol all looking serious or anxious. Mundo Deportivo, whose editorial line often mirrors the views of the Camp Nou hierarchy, focused on the sacked Zubizarreta, with the headline saying the Basque had been "struck down."
Buenos días. Esta es nuestra portada de hoy. pic.twitter.com/oTQItbafUY- Diario SPORT (@sport) January 6, 2015
In Madrid, Marca's Tuesday cover said "Barca falling apart." AS, meanwhile, said Messi's surprise absence from training showed an apparent wish to leave the club, with a headline claiming "Messi makes Barca despair."
The events throw into serious doubt the future of Bartomeu, who acceded to the presidency less than 12 months ago after predecessor Sandro Rosell surprisingly resigned in the wake of the controversial deal which brought Neymar to the club.
The future of Luis Enrique as first team coach has also been questioned following a run of poor results and performances, while Barca B helmer Eusebio is another man under serious pressure.
Here's our front page from today, focusing on Leo Messi and unsettled times at Barça pic.twitter.com/94yQm3hgpb- AS English (@English_AS) January 6, 2015
The club have announced that Bartomeu will hold a news conference on Wednesday at which reporters are unlikely to be stuck for questions to ask.
This is to be followed by a board meeting which the club claim is solely to discuss the subject of the transfer ban imposed by FIFA, and upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, for regularly breaking youth transfer regulations. However, the issue of whether to bring forward presidential elections currently scheduled for summer 2016 may also arise.
Likely candidate in any such election Augusto Benedito, runner-up to Rosell in the 2010 vote, has again taken the opportunity to say the club's members must be allowed to choose a new leader.
"This is another episode in the crisis the club is suffering," Benedito told Radio Marca. "The institutional situation is extremely serious. What has happened is only in keeping with how things are being managed. We cules want to choose our president. Bartomeu only counts on 20 percent support."
Writing in El Pais, well-connected Barca watcher Ramon Besa argued that the most worrying aspect of the current situation was its potential impact on Messi's future at the club.
"Nothing concerns the fans more than the situation of Messi, the only figure who has not been whistled by the crowd," Besa wrote. "The No. 10 is fed up with losing and does not see victories under Lucho [Luis Enrique].
"It is not a problem of players but of play -- the way in which the coach tries to win over Messi to make Barcelona improve. The problem is that Barca has become a machine of destruction with Rosell and Bartomeu. The deterioration, the degradation and the decadence are gaining speed with the absence of a project and leadership at the Camp Nou."