Messi's recent lack of involvement on the pitch was on everyone's lips off it during the azulgranas' trip home from Valcencia. One of the most popular theories is that he has his mind firmly set on the World Cup. And they might be right.
The Argentine now never challenges for the ball, doesn't get stuck in. It's as if he was saving himself, not taking the risk of picking up any injury so close to this summer's big event.
Only Leo himself knows if this is the truth or just idle gossip, but more and more people both inside and outside the Camp Nou are thinking that Messi has perhaps decided to throw in the towel with his club and throw in his luck with his country. It hasn't been an easy year for 'La Pulga'. It all started with his run-in with the taxman, which seemed to have left the player scathed.
Neymar's arrival was also an unwelcome surprise, as he felt cheated by the club, which had assured him that the newbie would not be earning as much as he did. In the end, it was demonstrated to the whole world that the Brazilian was to earn the same, if not even more.
Then came the Argentine's drawn-out contract renewal, which started with Rosell's bold promise to pay him the world (which came to be nothing more than hot air), the rumours of the player moving to another club and finally the less than spectacular offer made by the club's new president, Bartomeu. And then there have been Messi's injuries.
All these factors must have taken their toll on him. Added to that is his evident obsession with the Brazil World Cup. Everything seems to point to the player giving this competition priority over his club this season. Down in Argentina, everyone is certainly hoping that this is indeed the case, and not that he is quite simply not the player he used to be with such a big event coming up.