Messi and Enrique in Barca struggle for unity

Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu has acted quickly to bring a rapid resolution to the soap opera that has unfolded with alarming rapidity in recent days by calling for Presidential elections at the Catalan club at the end of the season. The big question, however, is what else might happen between now and then.
For an organisation that has always striven to keep its dirty linen strictly concealed from view, the Barcelona hierarchy has had to content with a significant amount of soiled laundry spilling out into the public domain in the past week.
Like all the best dramas, there have been multiple plot lines, a variety of protagonists and, with thanks to social media, a very public stage for the storyline to play out. The first ripples were caused when the club's appeal against a transfer ban imposed by FIFA was rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. 
Scarcely was the ink dry on that announcement than director of football Andoni Zubizarreta, a former Barca goalkeeper, was sacked by Bartomeu and legendary defender Carlos Puyol resigned from his role as Zubizarreta's assistant just a matter of months after calling time on his playing career. 
Zubizarreta has been reported as having been made a scapegoat for Barca's problems, with the President seeing the transfer ban debacle as the last straw. Puyol, meanwhile, was said to have been fascinated to have experienced "the other side of the club." Hardly a ringing endorsement from one of its all-time greats.
The focus then switched to matters on the pitch. Lionel Messi missed training ahead of Barca's Primera Liga game at Real Sociedad and was named only as a substitute as rumours of a rift with Coach Luis Enrique began to surface. La Blaugrana were beaten 1-0 by David Moyes' side, with Messi playing only the second half, and the recriminations began.
While the departures of Zubizarreta and Puyol essentially form part of the sub-plot, the lead story has inevitably centred on Messi, with Bartomeu forced to deny rumours of a possible move to Chelsea for the Argentine striker. Conjecture about Messi's unhappiness is inevitably linked to Enrique.
Enrique's arrival at the start of the season as replacement for the dour Tata Martino was initially welcomed by Barca's fans, who still hold the former Celta Vigo boss in high esteem for his successful playing career at Camp Nou. However, there are clear signs that Enrique's credit will run out fast if Messi does eventually leave.
Barca made a good start under Enrique, going eight games in La Liga without conceding a goal until they were soundly defeated 3-1 by Real Madrid in the season's first Clasico. The devastating form of their deadly rivals has not helped, with Ancelotti's men stringing together 22 straight wins to eclipse the Catalans and leave them trailing in the title race.
Bartomeu has moved quickly to provide reassurances on Messi's future, stating publicly that the record breaking three-time Ballon d'Or winner is going nowhere, as well as calling a Presidential election to steady the ship. Meanwhile, Enrique must prepare the team to face Elche in the Copa Del Rey on Thursday, with or without Messi.
Enrique is reputed to rule the team with a rod of iron, while Barca are not in the habit of changing their Coach in mid-season. On the other hand, Bartomeu will fight tooth and nail to keep Messi and, with half the season still to go, may believe his only option is to show Enrique the door now or reluctantly face the reality of another barren season.
Real Madrid, themselves no strangers to controversy and internecine strife, will be watching on with interest together with the rest of the football world. As audiences and opinion-formers go, they don't come much bigger.