The Argentine’s body language has changed in recent weeks, appearing more active and involved than he did in the early part of the season, almost opening himself to be convinced to stay.
Messi seems to be developing the ability to use his performances on the grass to distract himself from the institutional mess the club are in, best exhibited in a stunning performance against Athletic that saw him score twice and pre-assist.
Also evident was the relationship he seems to be cultivating with some of the Catalans’ younger guns, like Frenkie de Jong and Ousmane Dembele. They’re beginning to link in a manner that suggests they speak the same language.
Pedri, of course, is a separate case. The pair have forged a genuinely unique bond, one perhaps akin to the relationship Ronaldinho had with Messi when he first came through at Barcelona as a teenager.
There’s also Antoine Griezmann, who seems to be so full of respect for Messi and keen to win his approval that he’s willing to play second banana to him and focus more on operating within his ecosystem and assisting, as he did last night, than scoring.
It’s yet to be seen whether it’ll be enough to convince him to stay put and sign a new deal at Camp Nou, but it’s certainly grounds for optimism.