Football: Lionel Messi's departure from Barcelona is a mess everyone could see coming

Lionel Messi's deal at Barcelona expired at the end of June. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
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BARCELONA (NYTIMES) - FC Barcelona cannot say it was not warned.

It is not yet a year since the last time a curt communique from Camp Nou declared that Lionel Messi's long affair with the only club he has ever played for was over, and yet here we are again, the greatest player on this planet and also, according to all available evidence, any other, slipping from its grasp. To come so close to losing Messi once might be regarded as unfortunate. To do so twice looks an awful lot like carelessness.

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