In recent months, Lionel Messi has been in the media for many different incidents ranging from a row with Neymar over a potential signing, a demand list he gave Barcelona in order to renew his contract, rejecting Barcelona’s most recent contract offer and the infamous spat with a referee that led to a four-game international ban. Once again, the Barcelona talisman is exerting his influence over club affairs as according to Spanish news outlet Diario Gol via the Express, Messi has said that on-loan right-back Douglas Pereira should not return to Barcelona after his loan spell with Sporting Gijon ends.
The Argentine reportedly feels that the club needs better players in order to challenge for the league title and the Champions League. The former Sao Paulo man has received almost no playing time since singing in 2014, only playing in three league matches including a poor debut against Malaga that led to his status as third-choice right back. Despite right-backs Dani Alves and Martin Montoya leaving the club last summer, Barcelona allowed Pereira to leave on loan, where he has failed to impress at relegation candidates Sporting.
With right-back a problem position this season following the departure of Alves to Juventus along with Sergi Roberto and Aleix Vidal failing to impress, Messi has reportedly asked Barcelona to sign Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin to shore up the position. He feels that Pereira is not on the level Barcelona needs at the position. On the other hand, fellow loanee Munir El Haddadi has impressed at Valencia, scoring seven goals in 29 games and Messi is said to want him back at the Camp Nou. Other players on loan include Sergi Samper, Adrián Ortolá, Cristian Tello and Thomas Vermaelen.
One potential consequence of a Pereira exit would be the effect it has on Messi’s relationship with Neymar. The Brazilian forward is said to be close friends with Pereira and hearing that Messi wants his compatriot out of the club could cause a rift. This would not be the first time in recent months this happens as the two were reportedly embroiled in conflict regarding a potential acquisition of Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho. Messi has said he does not want the signing out of fear that an increased Brazilian contingent could reduce his influence at the club while increasing Neymar’s.