Two teams struggling to impress under respective club legends met in Turin on Wednesday, and without Juventus' star player on show, it was Ronald Koeman's Barcelona who came out on top.

A 34th meeting between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in club football was put on hold due to the latter's latest coronavirus test result, and Andrea Pirlo's side paid the price in a clash that was short of quality.

There were moments. Ousmane Dembele's opener, albeit fortuitous, came at the culmination of a fine run from the winger. On Barca's opposite flank, teenager Pedri shined and Messi showed flashes of brilliance.

At the other end, Alvaro Morata displayed neat finishing, only to see all three of his strikes disallowed, yet Merih Demiral's dreadful second-minute pass ultimately summed up a dismal Juve performance – his late red card compounding the hosts' misery.

Messi netted his 70th group-stage goal to wrap up the victory from the penalty spot, as Barca won in Turin for the first time.

JUVE MISS RONALDO'S EDGE AS MESSI LEADS BARCA

Ronaldo remains in isolation due to what he labelled as "bull****" coronavirus protocols, and without him, the Serie A champions have looked decidedly ordinary.

From the four games Ronaldo has missed since testing positive for COVID-19, Pirlo's team have managed just one win, against Dynamo Kyiv in their Group G opener.

In his 33 club meetings with Messi, Ronaldo has scored 18 goals and provided one assist, creating 19 chances and claiming nine wins.

Though those statistics do not compare favourably to Messi – who has scored 21 times, created 10 goals and crafted 60 opportunities – Juve's reliance on Ronaldo has become clearer in his absence.

Juve have now lost five of the 17 games, across the Serie A and Champions League, Ronaldo has not featured in since the start of the 2018-19 season, winning nine, scoring 26 goals and conceding 17.

With Ronaldo missing, Juve needed Paulo Dybala to step up but, playing in the same central role in a 4-2-3-1 as his opposite number, he went into hiding, having only two shots and failing to create any chances.

The same could not be said of Messi, whose assist for Dembele was his 35th in the Champions League, while the 33-year-old boasted game-highs in key passes (five) – more than any Barca player in any game this season – and shots (four).

KOEMAN FINDS A SPARK AFTER BARTOMEU QUITS

Saturday's Clasico defeat to Real Madrid proved to be the final game of the Josep Maria Bartomeu era at Barca, with the club president – and the entire board of directors – resigning on Tuesday.

Though it was far from a vintage display, and one which might not be good enough against the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City or holders Bayern Munich, Barca did what they needed to in Turin.

Leaving the evergreen Messi to one side, Koeman can also look to impressive displays from Dembele, Pedri and Miralem Pjanic, who made his presence felt against his former club.

Pjanic made 82 passes, second only to Messi, who attempted 95, with the former Juve playmaker achieving an accuracy of 86.6 per cent.

Pedri played with the flare of youth, though he did not shirk off his defensive work – his three tackles the joint-highest in Barca's side, along with Ronald Araujo.

Dembele's display, meanwhile, was perhaps the most promising of all for Koeman. Injury limited the Frenchman to nine appearances last season, and his deflected long-range effort ended a 12-month wait for a goal.

PIRLO STRUGGLING TO FIND A BALANCE

Though it must be noted that Wednesday's clash was only Pirlo's eighth as coach, and his first defeat, Juve looked a shadow of their former selves. 

Dybala may have been anonymous, but he was not helped by Juve's tendency to channel their play down the right flank, with only 25.4 per cent of their attacks going through central areas.

With Pjanic pulling the strings for Barca, Adrien Rabiot and Rodrigo Bentancur failed to combine with any real effect. Ahead of them, Dybala, Federico Chiesa and Dejan Kulusevski combined for just three attempts, with Morata forced into playing both as a poacher and creator – his tally of three opportunities created the most of any Juve player.

In their 200th Champions League game, Juve failed to put any of their 10 efforts on target, albeit Morata had three goals rightly disallowed.

Juve have now failed to score in their last four meetings with Barca, and Pirlo's Bianconeri, with three wins, four draws and a defeat, are a team struggling to discover their identity.

On Tuesday, Josep Maria Bartomeu announced he was resigning as president of Barcelona.

The 57-year-old confirmed he and the entire board of directors would be stepping down prior to a planned vote of no confidence at Camp Nou offices this weekend.

Below is the full speech Bartomeu delivered to reporters, members and fans...

 

"Good evening Barca members, I am here today to inform you of my resignation and that of the rest of the board of directors. 

"This is a well-considered, calm, consensual and collective decision by my fellow directors who have accompanied me over recent years in a loyal and committed fashion with regards to the project and the club, and who have made so many sacrifices thinking always of Barca.  

"This morning, as you well know, I received a reply from the Catalan Government to the letter that we sent yesterday. Their reply was clear. I will read the text: 'We inform you that the Catalan Government, represented by members from the Presidential, Interior and Health Departments, reiterate that there is no legal or sanitary impediment for the holding of the vote of censure, as long as they include, in the organisational protocol of the aforementioned vote of censure, the requirements that the PROCICAT technical group presented to FC Barcelona in the meeting which took place on 21 October.' That means a decentralised vote.

"To the point. They do not say anything else. They make no mention of our request in the same meeting and in previous meetings, which consisted of requesting legal coverage to have 15 days' notice to be able to organise the necessary complicated logistics to hold a vote that respected the minimum of health and safety measures necessary at that moment. Decentralised voting that, for the first time, proposed voting in 21 different polling stations, distributed geographically, 13 in Catalonia and eight in the rest of the state.

"Neither do they talk about the date of the vote, even though they know that we are obliged to call it this very day, and if we do not, we will not be complying with our own statutes.

"For that reason we asked them for legal coverage. The same that they requested from the Central Government in order to take extreme measures such as the curfew amongst others. However, they have decided to not grant us what they themselves have requested and received from the State Government. Frankly, they have decided to wash their hands of the subject in the face of a situation that was uncomfortable for them without thinking of the consequences that their decision can have.

"Immediately afterwards, at midday today, a meeting was called for the vote of censure committee. The representatives from the club's board of directors proposed holding the vote, as requested by the Catalan Government, in 21 different polling areas, but on November 15 and 16, in order to be able to carry out the necessary logistics.

"Both the representatives from the instigators of the vote, as well as the president of the committee, representing the Catalan Football Federation, not only opposed the idea but also that they would bring legal action against the club's board of directors. That was recorded in the minutes of the meeting taken by the notary.

"Yesterday, in my appearance, I spoke of the astonishment provoked by such decisions. Today, I have to say that these decisions, aside from being contradictory, seem to us irresponsible.

"I know that it is a strong statement but I cannot see another better that reflects what I think. At a time at which the Government itself is imposing painful measures on citizens that have serious social and economic consequences on families, businesses and where, as of yesterday, there is talk of even stricter measures such as weekend lockdowns, where experts talk of the danger of the collapse of our health care system, when also the same experts recommend lockdown of the entire population, where we see contradictory versions, from members of the Government themselves, such as the obligation or recommendation that all companies implement home working. At such a moment and in the circumstances, I cannot find any other word to describe this decision other than irresponsible.

"However, we have to act responsibly. For that reason we cannot hold the vote of censure in the current circumstances. It was necessary to do so in conditions that guaranteed everybody's health, so that nobody could fail to take part through fear or mobility problems, or because they formed part of a vulnerable group. We cannot nor want to put ourselves in a position of having to choose between protecting people's health and exercising the right to vote. For that reason we have taken the decision to not call the vote and resign forthwith.

"We know that we will leave the club in the hands of an interim board that, in the current circumstances of the pandemic, has no guarantee of being able to hold elections in the short term. We know that and I hope that the interim board will be able to carry out our decisions to help the club through the pandemic crisis.

"The desire of this board of directors has never been to hold on to power at the club, as we have heard repeatedly over the last few months. I can assure you of that. So, why did we not resign before?

"After being knocked out of the Champions League, the easiest thing was to leave. The easiest thing was to resign. Yet the day after that painful defeat we had to take decisions that we could not put off any more, key to guaranteeing the sporting future and immediate sustainability of the club. Furthermore, we had to do so in the middle of a global crisis without precedent. We could not leave the club in the hands of an interim board with limited powers.

"Who would have found the new coach? Who would have handled transfers? Who would have fought for Leo Messi to stay? Who would have carried out the budget cuts? Who would have handled the salary adjustments of the professional sportspeople at the club?

"As a board we understood that, out of responsibility, we have to take those decisions. The majority of which were uncomfortable and unpopular.

"The most obvious sign that we were not holding on to power is that we called elections for the month of March. The earliest date allowed by the statutes. That was because we believed that this would help to calm things down, allow teams to work and allow an ordered transition to the newly elected Board of Directors.

"An early resignation would have led to the club being tied up in an electoral process, a power vacuum, under the management of an interim board with limited powers that within a few weeks would have to take sporting and economic decisions with serious consequences that could not be put off.

"That is what I explained in my appearance on Monday: we had no reason to resign with elections called for March and with lots of work related to our management still to be done. Work that, for reasons of responsibility, we could not shirk, despite the personal cost to us and our families.

"A club like Barca needs to have ordered transitions from one board to another. Too many times in the past we have found ourselves suddenly in the final stages of a mandate that has not allowed this to be carried out, something essential in an organisation of the dimensions of ours. It is for that reason that our statutes provide for  an ample period of time to call elections: to allow this transition to be made in the best way possible.

"In contrast, it has been suggested what we had hidden interests, things to hide, even that we wanted to avoid making financial commitments... False insinuations and unfortunately many of them motivated by electoral or political interests.

"I have always accepted criticism. They say I am very resilient. I don’t know. What I do know is that I have accumulated enough experience, together with my fellow members of the board the know the realities of managing the club.

"I have always said that self-criticism makes us stronger and that Barca has always come out of difficult times. However, what we have experienced in the last few months goes beyond any limit. We have been shown a lack of respect, to me and my fellow board members; we have been insulted, threatened, even me and my family and my fellow board members.

"At the moment there are people who ask me what motivated me to join the Barca board of directors, first as a board member and then as president and if it was really worth it. In fact, it has been an honour to serve my club in this capacity.

"Over all these years as a board member and president I have tried to exercise my role representing the club's members with respect, humility and honesty.

"Today, however, we are obliged to resign. And we have to do without having completed the financial measures this season to reduce our immediate expenditure and to guarantee the growth of our revenue. I hope in the days to come an agreement can be reached to implement our salary adjustment from part of the playing staff and our employees. A measure that, if it is not applied, could have serious consequences for the future of the club. I have confidence that the interim board will be able to complete the process and that everyone can come to an agreement for the good of Barca.

"Today I can announce something that will change in an extraordinary way the future revenue of the club for the years to come.

"The board of directors have approved the acceptance of requirements to take in a future European Super League of clubs, a project put forward by the biggest clubs in Europe.

"The details of these requirements will be made available to the next board, and the decision about participation in this competition shall have to be ratified by the next Assembly of Delegate Members.

"And I also wish to announce that we have approved the future new format for the Club World Cup.

"We can say with pride that we are the best sports club in the world in terms of the value of its sponsorship revenue. We have achieved this in competition with clubs that are owned by huge magnates, corporations and even countries, and we have done that while maintaining our own ownership structure, with the club in the hands of the members, maintaining our nature as a club for the people, without raising season ticket prices since 2011 and still having lower prices than the big European clubs.

"The European Super League will guarantee the club's financial stability, which will continue to belong to the members. It shall never become a limited sports company.

"Our uniqueness means that we never have to share dividends among our members and that the almost €200million accumulated profit that this board has made since 2010, the highest profits ever achieved by any board in the history of the club, shall be invested in sporting and capital projects.

"The club is unquestionably solid, despite the difficulties we are going through. In these last three years we have developed new business lines, such as our digital strategy, with projects like the new OTT, Barca TV+, the development of contents through Barca Studios, the e-commerce platform for online sales and the research for new knowledge and new revenue via the Barca Innovation Hub.

"The Barca Corporate program was passed yesterday, and pending its finalisation and approval of the Assembly of Delegate Members, it will generate greater value for these new projects and the club’s ordinary activities.

"I'd also like to mention the Espai Barca, a club project approved by the members in a referendum and that will become one of Barca's main sources of revenue in the future. Espai Barca is already happening, investments have already been made, and the first part of it, the Estadi Johan Cruyff, is already finished and operative. We shall be supplying the new board with the political agreement, the technical projects and a funding proposal whereby the work will be paid without it having to affect the club's ordinary affairs. Goldman Sachs is not asking for any kind of guarantee that would put the club's viability at risk in any way.

"It is worth looking up and remembering that since 2004, Barca fans have felt very privileged indeed. We are enjoying an extraordinary era of success, an unprecedented era in European football. There have been new cycles, with new managers and players, but we have kept on winning. We have won 34 titles, more than Bayern [Munich], Porto, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.

"Of those 34 titles, 22 have been won under this board in the last 10 years. An unprecedented success rate in this club's history.

"The upheaval of the squad in the last few months should have happened a year earlier, and for that I accepted my part of the responsibility. How? By calling elections for March 2021, the soonest possible in accordance with the statutes to bring a mandate to an end.

"And why do the statutes include that option? To guarantee a smooth transition between one presidency and the next. And that is what the club needs, given its huge size, the highly competitive industry in which it operates as well as the context brought about by the health crisis.

"We needed to rejuvenate the squad, renew our hopes, change the inertia and dynamic … and that is what we did. It has meant the departure of players who have played essential roles in recent years. I would like to reiterate my gratitude to them for what they gave to the club in their time here. And we have also promoted highly promising youngsters from Barca B and some exceptional talent signed from elsewhere.

"As I said last Monday, the decision to hire a new coach in Ronald Koeman was one that the board had to make, in the same way that we had to approach the summer transfer market. And I am very happy with my decision.

"I hope that time will confirm it and people will continue to appreciate the assets that we have renewed and generated over all these years. We are the most loved club in the world, the biggest in terms of fan numbers, and followers on social networks, and our global nature is unquestionable, with offices in Hong Kong and New York.

"We wanted to be a benchmark in terms of promoting the role of women in society, with the professionalisation of our women's team as the flagship project, and which is now setting new standards on a national and continental level. And also defending the role of women at our club and in the history of sport.

"I am proud of what we have done; making Barca a club that is committed to society, to its country, to children and to the most vulnerable, with a Foundation that is such a huge benchmark in the world of sport and that has played such a fundamental humanitarian part in this pandemic.

"We are proud to have worked on and consolidated over these years our social programs to escort the elderly at matches, the game with free entrance for the needy, travel to away matches, and the youth section in the stadium; reviewing the waiting list system and doing so much to combat fraud. And for creating such a body for our supporters clubs as the World Confederation of Penyes, which is made up of 30 federations and has made the supporters movement stronger, more efficient and more global than ever.

"I can also assure you that La Masia has been consolidated as a sporting and human training centre, with a program providing care to the more than 600 young athletes in our youth system.

"And we are also proud to have so many Barca academies around the world teaching boys and girls to play football our way and in accordance with our values.

"The multi-sport nature of our club is more alive than ever. The Social Area has done wonderful work to foster our amateur sports, with more than 1,500 athletes of all ages, with a particular focus on youth training schemes.

"Since 2010, we have won 149 different professional titles: 19 in basketball, 52 in handball, 31 in roller hockey, 27 in futsal and 20 in women's football.

"I have sometimes said that our fate was to run Barca at one of the most turbulent times for the country and for the club too. We have had to deal with all kinds of situations, both in a historic political context (where we have always stood beside our institutions, and defended such non-negotiable principles as the right to freedom of expression and the right to decide), and we also had to overcome the death of Tito Vilanova.

"We have also watched in disbelief as a Barca president, Sandro Rosell, was so unfairly imprisoned. And have put up with sometimes irrational and cruel insults and criticism from the media, which have often gone way over the line regarding what kinds of things are admissible.

"But now it is time to turn the page. I expect everyone will have their opinions and will draw their own conclusions.

"I just hope to be able to continue enjoying our Barça, but now from a distance. I wish all the best to the new president and board, which shall be chosen by the club's own members. They shall always have my respect and my support whenever they feel they need it.

"It is we the members who decide our future. Nobody else. That is part of the Barca identity and what makes us so great, the most loved club in the world. And that was the goal of our Strategic Plan when we began our mandate in 2015: to make Barca the most admired, loved and global sports club in the world. And I believe we have achieved that goal and much more.

"I thank all the members, supporters clubs, fans, athletes, technical secretaries, coaching staff, executives, full-time and temporary employees, the members of all commissions, the patrons of the Foundation, and especially my fellow board members, both past and present.

"In short, my thanks to the whole blaugrana family for all the wonderful work and support over all these years since we arrived in 2010 with Sandro Rosell as our president.

"I also thank those people for their constructive criticism and encourage them all to continue making this the greatest club in the world. Thank you very much.

"Visca el Barca i Visca Catalunya!"

Josep Maria Bartomeu's ultimately unpopular tenure as Barcelona president has finally come to an end after the club's entire board resigned.

Barca won the treble in his first full season in charge in 2014-15, led by the thrilling front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez.

But it seems unlikely Bartomeu's time as the top man at Camp Nou will be remembered for that success.

Barca subsequently suffered humiliation after humiliation in the Champions League, reaching a remarkable crescendo with August's 8-2 quarter-final demolition at the hands of eventual champions Bayern Munich.

However, it was Bartomeu's failings in the transfer market that helped put the Catalan giants in such a position.

While Neymar left and then Lionel Messi pushed for a move of his own, Barca recruited in disappointing if often spectacular fashion.

Not all of Bartomeu's signings were poor, but we look at the 10 permanent deals that defined his reign.

 

Marc-Andre ter Stegen – €12m from Borussia Monchengladbach

That stunning first season of on-field triumphs came after an excellent summer transfer window, although Ter Stegen was restricted to Champions League action initially as fellow new man Claudio Bravo started in LaLiga. Germany international Ter Stegen quickly proved his worth in the 2014-15 European campaign, keeping a joint-high six clean sheets courtesy of 31 saves, while trailing only Manuel Neuer for successful passes (245) and passing accuracy (80 per cent) among goalkeepers.

Ivan Rakitic – €18m from Sevilla

Another to join in the €165m spending spree of 2014, Rakitic only departed this year to return to Sevilla. The midfielder was a consistent performer throughout his time at Camp Nou, yet perhaps his best season was reserved for his first 12 months at Barca. He scored five times in LaLiga and laid on seven assists – the most in his Barca career – from 35 chances created.

Luis Suarez – €81m from Liverpool

The most important and surely best signing of Bartomeu's tenure followed in that same transfer window as Barca prised Suarez from Liverpool after their failed Premier League title bid in which he netted 31 times. That same scoring form continued in LaLiga, where Suarez struck up a great partnership and friendship with Messi. The Uruguay international left for Atletico Madrid prior to the 2020-21 campaign – a key factor in the ongoing Barca crisis – having scored 198 goals for the club, trailing only Messi and Cesar Rodriguez. Suarez scored a sensational 40 LaLiga goals in 2015-16, along with 16 assists and 23 tackles, typifying his work rate. All three were high marks for his Barca career.

Thomas Vermaelen – €18m from Arsenal

Along with Ter Stegen, Rakitic and Suarez, though, came a signing that would prove more in keeping with much of the rest of the work done under Bartomeu. Vermaelen cost a decent fee, was scarcely fit and rarely looked like troubling the starting XI when he was. He made just 26 LaLiga starts in five years at Barca.

Andre Gomes – €35m from Valencia

After making just two signings in 2015-16, Barca were busy in the market again the following campaign. A combination of form and fitness meant few if any of the 2016-17 signings could be considered successes, but Gomes was perhaps the worst. Signed for a fee that could have risen to €55m, he scored three goals and provided one assist in the league across two seasons before leaving for Everton.

Ousmane Dembele – €105m from Borussia Dortmund

Barca's dealings had been questionable even before they sold Neymar, but the money brought in for the Brazilian then appeared to burn a hole in the pocket of Bartomeu, who proceeded to spend it in a series of unsuccessful ways. Dembele seemed a reasonable enough replacement for Neymar but injuries disrupted his progress. He has supplied just 12 goals and 11 assists in the league since signing, although he remains at Camp Nou.

Philippe Coutinho – €120m from Liverpool

Barca tried for Coutinho when Neymar first left and returned for the Liverpool star again in January. Yet the Blaugrana did not appear to have a role made for the playmaker, sticking to a 4-3-3 formation that forced him out wide or deep in the midfield. Another still at Barca, a reasonable enough initial return of eight goals and five assists from 29 chances created in the remainder of his first season did not provide a platform for success. He spent last season on loan at Bayern and scored twice in the humbling of his parent club.

Malcom – €41m from Bordeaux

As Barca went big again in 2018-19, there appeared to be a third attempt at replacing Neymar. Malcom was just 21 and should have been one for the future but did not last long. A single season brought one goal and two assists before he left for Zenit.

Antoine Griezmann – €120m from Atletico Madrid

Project replace Neymar: part four. With attempts to bring the PSG number 10 himself back to Barca failing, a long-awaited move for Griezmann was instead completed. A World Cup winner who led the line for one of Barca's biggest domestic rivals, Griezmann certainly had the pedigree but has so far struggled to work with Messi in attack. The pair are yet to create a single chance for one another in LaLiga this season and have combined on just 23 passes.

Martin Braithwaite – €18m from Leganes

Braithwaite is evidently delighted to be at Barca, but perhaps that is the problem. It is a stunning indictment of Bartomeu's tenure that Ronald Koeman had to turn to the Denmark international in a bid to rescue last week's Clasico defeat. He now wears the number nine shirt that belonged to Suarez.

Josep Maria Bartomeu has resigned as president of Barcelona, with the whole board stepping down with immediate effect ahead of a proposed vote of no confidence. 

Bartomeu announced his decision on Tuesday, a day before Barca – under the tutelage of the outgoing president's final coaching appointment in Ronald Koeman – take on Juventus in the Champions League. 

It brings to an end a six-year reign for the 57-year-old, who had insisted only on Monday that there was no reason to resign from his position. 

Barca won the treble in Bartomeu's first year in charge, yet things gradually began to unravel over the course of his tenure. 

Successive Champions League capitulations to Roma and then Liverpool signalled the beginning of the end during what was a tumultuous final year for Bartomeu.

May 2019: Anfield nightmare

Barca – who had collapsed at Roma in the previous season's quarter-finals – had a 3-0 advantage as they arrived at Anfield to complete the Champions League semi-final. 

Liverpool were without forward duo Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino too, yet the Reds stormed to a 4-0 triumph, making Barca the first team since Gothenburg in 1986 to lose a semi-final having held a three-goal first-leg advantage. 

January 2020: Valverde out, Setien in

Having led Barca to successive LaLiga titles, Ernesto Valverde survived the capitulation at Anfield but a poor run of form that culminated in a defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana marked the end of his tenure. 

With then-Netherlands boss Koeman reportedly an option, Barca - who had spent big on Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann - were turned down by club legend Xavi, so Bartomeu opted instead for the experience of former Real Betis boss Quique Setien, a somewhat surprising appointment.

August 2020: Humiliation in Lisbon

Setien managed six victories from his opening eight LaLiga matches, though Barca went down 2-0 to Real Madrid. However, an 18-point haul was enough to propel them to top of the table when the coronavirus pandemic caused the suspension of football across Europe. 

Yet Barca, who had dropped out of the Copa del Rey in February, drew with Sevilla, Celta Vigo and Atletico Madrid upon the resumption, then lost to Osasuna at home to gift rivals Real Madrid the title. 

It meant Barca headed into their Champions League quarter-final tie with Bayern Munich in Lisbon knowing they had just one shot at silverware, though what followed was one of the most humiliating moments in the club's illustrious history. 

Bayern crushed Barca 8-2 on their way to lifting the trophy, the on-loan Philippe Coutinho scoring two of the goals in the rout of his parent club, and Setien's spell was over.

August and September 2020: Koeman takes charge, Messi wants out 

Having missed out to Setien previously, Camp Nou legend Koeman finally landed his dream job. However, the ink on the Dutchman's contract was barely dry by the time reports emerged that superstar Lionel Messi wanted to leave the club. 

Barca subsequently confirmed that Messi had asked to be released from his contract, with the 33-year-old citing a clause in his contract which would allow him to leave for free, rather than for his €700 million buyout clause. 

After much speculation, however, Messi confirmed on September 4 that he would remain with Barca for the final year of his contract, though he criticised how the club had been run and reiterated his dissatisfaction of Bartomeu's leadership. 

October 2020: Bartomeu resigns 

A 3-1 Clasico defeat to Madrid in front of an empty Camp Nou was the final game of the Bartomeu era. The rest of Barca's board also resigned too - it now remains to be seen where the club go next. 

He did not go quietly, though. Announcing his decision during a speech that did not allow any chance for questions from the media, Bartomeu revealed Barcelona had accepted an invitation to join a proposed new European Super League. 

"The European Super League will make it so the club can remain being one of the members," the outgoing president said.

Barcelona have accepted an invitation to join a proposed new European Super League, according to outgoing president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Bartomeu made the announcement on Tuesday in a speech confirming he and Barca's board of directors are resigning.

"We accept entry into a European Super League of football clubs," he said. "This acceptance will have to be ratified by the next assembly. We have also approved the format of the new Club World Cup.

"The European Super League will make it so the club can remain being one of the members."

A report from Sky Sports last week claimed Liverpool and Manchester United were leading talks around the prospect of a new FIFA-backed tournament featuring the world's biggest clubs.

It was claimed more than a dozen teams from England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain were in negotiations to become founder members of a possible European Premier League backed by $6billion (£4.6billion) of funding.

Bartomeu's comments made it clear that Barca are one such club to have been approached to join the proposed competition, which could start as early as 2022 and comprise home and away fixtures between 18 teams.

Any final decision would have to be ratified by a vote held by the next Barca president and board of directors.

In his speech, Bartomeu did not state whether Barca's involvement in any new such competition would lead to them withdrawing from LaLiga or the Champions League.

The new Club World Cup was scheduled to begin next year, in place of the traditional pre-World Cup tournament, the Confederations Cup, with FIFA expanding the tournament to 24 teams and China selected as host.

The coronavirus pandemic means the event is likely to be pushed back until at least 2022, however.

Bartomeu's admission that Barca have accepted the plans for the new tournament is at odds with the view of the European Club Association (ECA), which last year produced a letter insisting "no ECA clubs would take part".

Writing on Twitter on Tuesday after Bartomeu's resignation speech, LaLiga president Javier Tebas said: "Unlucky Bartomeu, announcing on the final day participation in a phantom competition that would be the ruin of Barcelona, and ratifies his ignorance in the football industry.

"A sad end for a president who had success and, in the end, errors."

Barcelona have accepted an invitation to join a proposed new European Super League, according to outgoing president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Bartomeu made the announcement on Tuesday in a speech confirming he and Barca's board of directors are resigning.

"We accept entry into a European Super League of football clubs," he said. "This acceptance will have to be ratified by the next assembly. We have approved the format of the new Club World Cup.

"The European Super League will make it so the club can remain being one of the members."

Josep Maria Bartomeu has resigned as president of Barcelona.

The LaLiga club announced on Tuesday that Bartomeu and the entire board of directors have chosen to step down with immediate effect following a meeting.

Bartomeu had insisted on Monday there was no reason for him to resign ahead of a vote of no confidence against his leadership, which was expected to be held at Camp Nou this weekend.

However, the 57-year-old has changed his mind due to the ongoing institutional problems at the club and the risk of possible exposure to coronavirus that Barca members would face if they went to vote.

In a statement read out on Tuesday, Bartomeu announced: "I am communicating my resignation from the position of president, along with my entire board of directors."

The news marks the end of a turbulent era at one of the world's grandest football clubs.

Bartomeu, previously a leading figure for Barca's handball and basketball section and then vice-president of sports, was first elected president in 2014 after predecessor Sandro Rosell resigned as legal proceedings were opened into allegations of misappropriated funds relating to Neymar's transfer a year earlier.

Barca enjoyed huge success in Bartomeu's first year, winning the treble under head coach Luis Enrique in 2014-15 - the last time they lifted the Champions League trophy - and Bartomeu won re-election that year with 54.63 per cent of the vote.

He then introduced a "Strategic Plan" for the period 2015 through 2021, "with the objective of making Barca the most admired, beloved, and global sports institution, a plan which includes an annual revenue goal of €1billion by 2021".

Bartomeu also won backing for the Espai Barca project, an ambitious plan to renovate Camp Nou and its surroundings and construct brand new facilities for training and Barca's other competitive sports teams.

Barca won the domestic double in 2015-16, as well as the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, before lifting the Copa del Rey in 2016-17 in Luis Enrique's final season in charge.

However, concerns were by this point growing over the club's transfer policy, as huge investment in the playing squad failed to arrest a steady decline in the team's fortunes, and Neymar's €222million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 provoked further frustration.

Ernesto Valverde took charge and delivered two further LaLiga titles and a Copa del Rey, but humbling Champions League exits at the hands of Roma and Liverpool prompted scrutiny both of the coach's methods and the sporting project overseen by Bartomeu.

When 2019-20 ended with no trophies and a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, calls for Bartomeu to step down before next year's elections grew louder, with tensions between the board and playing squad reaching a critical point when captain Lionel Messi attempted to leave the club.

Messi eventually stayed but accused Bartomeu of going back on a promise that the six-time Ballon d'Or winner would be allowed to leave if he wished, describing the running of the club as "a disaster".

A motion against the incumbent president passed the threshold of 16,250 member votes on October 8, forcing the club's board to set a date for a vote of no confidence that will no longer be necessary.

Josep Maria Bartomeu has resigned as president of Barcelona.

The LaLiga club announced on Tuesday that Bartomeu and the entire board of directors have chosen to step down with immediate effect following a meeting.

Bartomeu had insisted on Monday there was no reason for him to resign ahead of a vote of no confidence against his leadership, which was expected to be held at Camp Nou this weekend.

However, the 57-year-old has changed his mind due to the ongoing institutional problems at the club and the risk of possible exposure to coronavirus that Barca members would face if they went to vote.

In a statement read out on Tuesday, Bartomeu announced: "I am communicating my resignation from the position of president, along with my entire board of directors."

The news marks the end of a turbulent era at one of the world's grandest football clubs.

Bartomeu, previously a leading figure for Barca's handball and basketball section and then vice-president of sports, was first elected president in 2014 after predecessor Sandro Rosell resigned as legal proceedings were opened into allegations of misappropriated funds relating to Neymar's transfer a year earlier.

Barca enjoyed huge success in Bartomeu's first year, winning the treble under head coach Luis Enrique in 2014-15 - the last time they lifted the Champions League trophy - and Bartomeu won re-election that year with 54.63 per cent of the vote.

He then introduced a "Strategic Plan" for the period 2015 through 2021, "with the objective of making Barca the most admired, beloved, and global sports institution, a plan which includes an annual revenue goal of €1billion by 2021".

Bartomeu also won backing for the Espai Barca project, an ambitious plan to renovate Camp Nou and its surroundings and construct brand new facilities for training and Barca's other competitive sports teams.

Barca won the domestic double in 2015-16, as well as the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, before lifting the Copa del Rey in 2016-17 in Luis Enrique's final season in charge.

However, concerns were by this point growing over the club's transfer policy, as huge investment in the playing squad failed to arrest a steady decline in the team's fortunes, and Neymar's €222million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017 provoked further frustration.

Ernesto Valverde took charge and delivered two further LaLiga titles and a Copa del Rey, but humbling Champions League exits at the hands of Roma and Liverpool prompted scrutiny both of the coach's methods and the sporting project overseen by Bartomeu.

When 2019-20 ended with no trophies and a humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, calls for Bartomeu to step down before next year's elections grew louder, with tensions between the board and playing squad reaching a critical point when captain Lionel Messi attempted to leave the club.

Messi eventually stayed but accused Bartomeu of going back on a promise that the six-time Ballon d'Or winner would be allowed to leave if he wished, describing the running of the club as "a disaster".

A motion against the incumbent president passed the threshold of 16,250 member votes on October 8, forcing the club's board to set a date for a vote of no confidence that will no longer be necessary.

Under-fire Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said he could not sanction Lionel Messi's transfer to a rival club, reiterating his desire for the superstar captain to retire at Camp Nou.

Messi handed in a transfer request following a tumultuous 2019-20 season, which saw Barca humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals and dethroned by Real Madrid in LaLiga, before the six-time Ballon d'Or winner opted to stay this term.

The 33-year-old was tipped to join Premier League giants Manchester City and while the transfer did not materialise, Pep Guardiola's side are reportedly still eyeing a move for the Argentina skipper.

Bartomeu – facing a vote of no confidence next month following a motion against the incumbent president passed the threshold of 16,250 votes on October 8 – came in for criticism after blocking Messi's move and the 57-year-old explained his stance.

"Our priority was keeping Messi as part of our new project so I decided against starting a discussion," Bartomeu said.

"I had been accused of forcing his departure in order to balance our books. Well, no, we put the interests of the club first and didn't want to reinforce a direct rival. We made that decision knowing that we would be criticised for it.

"I understand the positions of everyone, empathising is important. In the case of Leo, it is good to get angry because it is not good to accept defeat and we have all gotten angry. 

"But there was a deadline for him to announce whether or not he was going unilaterally. He didn't and here it is. We all want him to retire at Barca."

Bartomeu added: "Because of the Messi case, it never occurred to me to resign. For Barcelona, for the club, for the team, having Messi and having him retire here is the best option for everyone.

"The project is very interesting with young people and veterans, like Messi. And I think that, with him, we are going to win a title this season."

Barca, meanwhile, issued a statement detailing their "absolute disagreement" with VAR decisions following Saturday's 3-1 Clasico loss to Madrid.

Ronald Koeman's Barca were left angered by the decision for VAR to award Madrid a penalty following Clement Lenglet's shirt pull on Los Blancos captain Sergio Ramos.

"Faced with the events brought about by the application of VAR during the game last Saturday against Real Madrid CF, the board of directors wishes to reiterate its confidence in VAR as a technology to assist referees with their work but, at the same time, expresses its absolute disagreement with regard to the criteria used for its application and interpretation in recent months," the statement read.

"The board considers that, in the cases of identical or very similar game situations, VAR has not upheld the essential criteria of ethics and fairness, which has had a serious negative impact on FC Barcelona and has benefitted its most direct opponents. It is public knowledge that other clubs in LaLiga have made public statements on the same issue. 

"FC Barcelona urges the Spanish Football Federation to take immediate action, with the collaboration of the LaLiga clubs if it sees fit, to unify the criteria of interpretation and application and put an end to a situation that is damaging the image and credibility of what we consider the best league in the world."

Bartomeu said: "Just now when I was coming into the press conference I was informed that there are audio recordings of a lineman talking with the referee in Barcelona’s game against Real Madrid.

"We are going to analyse it. We have been requesting another verification of the VAR criteria for some time and we are calling for a joint reflection by the professional teams. It cannot be one way in some games and in another way in others."

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is not yet stepping down but says there are plans in place for a vote of no confidence to be held on November 1-2.

A motion against the incumbent president passed the threshold of 16,250 member votes on October 8, forcing the club's board to set a date for the vote to take place.

Bartomeu and the board met at the Camp Nou offices on Monday and it had been reported the president could resign immediately due to uncertainty around the manner in which the referendum can be held amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Spain recently declared a new state of emergency due to the increase in new COVID-19 cases across the country, which has recorded more than 1.15million infections.

Bartomeu says the board are awaiting a decision from Barcelona's regional government to determine whether it will be safe to hold the no-confidence vote at Camp Nou this weekend, with their proposal for an additional delay having been denied.

"We put adequate mechanisms in place for the vote of no confidence, proposing November 1 and 2 in 13 locations in Catalonia," he told reporters on Monday.

"Last Thursday, our request to have 15 days to make the vote as universal as possible was not respected. The Generalitat [the government of Catalonia] did not accept to do it on November 15 and 16 in a decentralised way.

"[On Sunday], the prime minister [Pedro Sanchez] decreed a state of alarm and a curfew, establishing meetings of a maximum of six people, and Catalonia decreed a night-time curfew. We sent a letter to the Generalitat asking how we could guarantee the vote of members of over 65 and how we could guarantee the health of the 300 workers.

"We know that we live in serious situations that require exceptional measures; they are incompatible with partisan positions. We have decided that we will meet again when we have the answers.

"Regarding the vote of no confidence, we are waiting for a response from the Generalitat to know if the health situation is maintained so the vote can be held on November 1 and 2.

"We have always wanted a decentralised vote, in various venues so that as many members as possible vote, so we asked for 15 more days, but last Thursday we were told that it would be November 1 and 2. We don't have time and if the vote is centralised at Camp Nou on November 1 and 2, it will have to be done with an adequate health protocol."

Lionel Messi earned the right to leave Barcelona at the end of last season, according to Gerard Pique, who has hit out at president Josep Maria Bartomeu and defended signing a new contract in an explosive interview.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi stunned the world in August when he told Barca of his intention to leave the club he has spent two decades with.

He intended to trigger a clause in his contract to walk away on a free transfer, but the validity of such a stipulation was murky due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The saga was brought to a temporary end on September 4 when the forward announced he will stay at Camp Nou for another year, rather than challenge Barca in a legal battle.

But Pique feels the club handled the situation the wrong way, with Bartomeu allegedly backtracking on a promise to let Messi leave whenever he felt the time was right.

"I didn't have much contact with him around that time because it was a very personal decision," he told La Vanguardia ahead of Barca's Clasico clash with Real Madrid on Saturday.

"But I remember saying: 'Leo, it's one year, and then new people will come in'.

"He had more than earned the right to make a decision and if he considered that he should go... I as president would have acted differently.

"A player who for 16 years has given you so much. You are obliged to come to an agreement with him. It cannot be so obvious that the two parties are so far apart.

"How can it be that the best player in history, who we have the luck to enjoy, gets up one day and send a burofax because he feel they are not listening to him?

"Everything is too shocking. What is going on? Leo deserves everything. The new stadium should have his name and then that of the sponsor. 

"We should preserve our figures, not discredit them. It makes me nervous."

Pique also criticised Barca's "outrageous" decision to allegedly hire a social media company to damage the reputations of certain key figures, including himself and Messi.

"As a Barca player, I see that my club as spent money to criticise us – not only people outside the club, but also those who are still playing. That is outrageous," he said, with the club having denied the claims.

"I asked for an explanation and [Bartomeu] told me: 'Gerard, I didn't know'. I believed it, but then you see the person in charge of hiring those services is still at the club.

"It hurts a lot. I say that because I personally told the president before. What else can I say? Is it painful? Yes. Can I do something else? Well, no.

"My relationship with the president is cordial but there are certain things that remain."

Pique this week penned a new four-year contract, which has reportedly caused a dressing-room split as a number of players – including the defender – are said to have signed a letter saying they will not negotiate with the current board.

Asked about his decision to renew, and whether he considered departing Catalonia, Pique said: "If the coach didn't depend on me, I'd have had no problem [leaving].

"The club told me and other players that due to the pandemic they will suffer a lot financially. In that situation, Barca is not above anyone. 

"Barca have given me everything, so I put myself at their disposal. They tell me all the money I can give up this year will be collected in the future.

"I think we are helping the club. The pay may be bigger in the future but for there to be a future we must act like this.

"In a personal capacity, each player is free to accept the club's proposal voluntarily. 

"Another thing is that they force you unilaterally and that they do it with the ways that they have done it. There, the truth is, I totally disagree."

Barcelona have confirmed that sufficient signatures have been verified to proceed with a vote of no confidence in president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

A total of 20,687 members backed the motion and on Thursday the club revealed that the minimum threshold of 16,250 required to move the process on had been deemed authentic.

Once the final results are submitted and a period of review passes, the board of directors will have between 10 and 20 working days to set a date for the vote.

A Barca statement read: "Pending the final closure of the validations process, this Wednesday, October 7, the cutoff of the 16,250 valid signatures necessary for the vote to succeed was exceeded.

"Once the panel makes the final result official and the vote of no confidence is admitted, a few days will be taken to attend to the resolution and the claims of the census, and then the board of directors will have a period of no less than 10 working days and no more than 20 to call the vote."

Support for the motion intensified in August, when Lionel Messi confirmed his desire to leave Barca in the wake of their 8-2 Champions League quarter-final humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.

The club brought forward planned presidential elections to March, but Bartomeu could now be ousted in advance.

Barca vice-president Jordi Cardoner said in a news conference: "Despite the many things that have been said and written, this board is a team. We are all together.

"We are with president Josep Maria Bartomeu in the tough times, as we are going through now. There is uncertainty around at personal level but also in regards to health. We don't know how we will be tomorrow.

"However, more than ever, we have the unity, the effort and the credit, the credit that many memberships gave us. We will individually give our best and we will be responsible until the last day that the president and his board are in charge. That's it."

Messi did not end up leaving Barca, claiming Bartomeu made it "impossible" for him to do so by going back on his word to let him go for free.

However, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner only remains under contract until the end of June.

More questions were raised when the club allowed Luis Suarez to leave for Atletico Madrid and failed to sign a replacement striker before the close of the transfer window.

Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted he had no interest in continuing a public spat with Lionel Messi despite the Barcelona captain's criticism of his presidency.

Messi stunned the world last month when he informed Barca of his intention to depart the LaLiga giants, with the 33-year-old intending to trigger a clause in his contract to walk away on a free at the end of last season.

However, the validity of such a stipulation was murky due to the campaign being extended by the coronavirus pandemic, and Messi ultimately opted to remain in Catalonia rather than challenge Barcelona in a legal battle.

That did not prevent him from taking aim at Bartomeu in an interview with Goal, though, as he accused the president of reneging on his wish to leave and presiding over a club that had "no project or anything for a long time".

"As president, I will not enter into any conflict with Messi," Bartomeu told TV3.

"Messi is our captain, our leader. The issue is parked. What has been said has been said.

"I couldn't allow to let the best player in the world go. The team needs him, he guarantees success. Things have to be discussed at home. You have to support the team and the players.

"We have to congratulate ourselves that Messi is still with us. He is excited about [coach Ronald] Koeman's project. The important thing is he plays for Barca, at his home. We want him to retire at the club."

Messi's contract expires at the end of the 2020-21 season anyway, though by that point Barcelona will have a different president as there are elections to replace Bartomeu next March.

However, Bartomeu, unpopular with some Barcelona fans due to his role in the Messi saga, may be forced out before then if he faces a vote of no confidence on the back of a motion to remove him, which has so far gathered more than 20,000 votes.

"Right now, no-one is considering resigning," Bartomeu added.

"The club is not going to stop. I think everyone was surprised by the number of signatures but we respect democracy and the club's laws."

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is facing a vote of no confidence after club members claimed to have gathered enough signatures for a motion of censure.

Bartomeu has been under enormous pressure at Camp Nou after a tumultuous 2019-20 season, during which Barca finished trophy-less.

The LaLiga giants confirmed on Thursday that enough members had delivered a vote of censure against the Barcelona board.

It said a total of 20,687 signatures had been counted, which was more than the 16,520 required, although they must still be validated before a vote goes ahead.

If it proceeds, two thirds of members would have to vote against Bartomeu and the board for them to be removed.

A presidential election is nonetheless due to be held at Barcelona in March with Bartomeu, who has been in the role since 2014, under pressure.

Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien were both sacked as head coaches this year, with former Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman taking charge.

Setien announced on Thursday he was taking legal action against Barcelona over his sacking.

To add to the turmoil, Lionel Messi requested to leave the club during the close season, but the superstar will instead stay for this campaign after the saga.

Barcelona are facing legal action from Quique Setien after the coach they sacked last month revealed dismay over the handling of his dismissal.

Setien was removed from his post in a move that allowed Ronald Koeman to return to Camp Nou to take charge of the team.

Former Real Betis boss Setien indicated Barcelona have offered no compensation and said the Catalan club have failed to honour terms of the contract he signed in January.

In a statement that Setien posted on social media, from himself and his coaching team of Eder Sarabia, Jon Pascua and Fran Soto, it was claimed that all four only received written confirmation of their sackings on Wednesday of this week.

Those came via burofax, the coaches said, with the statement saying there had been "absolute silence on the part of the FC Barcelona board of directors" until that point.

According to the statement from Setien and his coaches, Barcelona indicated "a clear intention ... not to comply" with contracts that were signed on January 14, in the week that Setien succeeded Ernesto Valverde.

Setien said in the statement: "It is public and well known that, on August 17, both the club and the president announced my dismissal with immediate effect.

"However, it was not until yesterday, September 16 (one month later), when they sent me, for the first time, the written communication of said dismissal (without any settlement)."

The statement from Setien and his coaches added: "For all that has been said, we have been forced to put the conflict resolution in the hands of our lawyers, having to file the corresponding legal actions.

"This is in order to preserve our rights and what was agreed upon with FC Barcelona."

Setien endured a tough seven months as head coach after relacing Valverde.

Following a three-month pause in the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Barcelona were overtaken by Real Madrid in the LaLiga title run-in.

They were then humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, a result which proved the final straw for president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the Barcelona board as Setien departed.

Captain Lionel Messi sought to follow his coach out of Camp Nou but could not agree terms for a free transfer.

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