Could Messi leave Barca for Pep reunion?
Messi's Barcelona future depends on identity of Enrique's successor
If Barcelona's history will absolve Luis Enrique, he may finally be able to raise a smile.
He has often treated managing his former club with the cold detachment of business, rather than the gushing love affairs which Pep Guardiola, and Johan Cruyff before him, had enjoyed.
The Nou Camp's communion with its revered ex-players remains strong, but Enrique never ingratiated himself in the same way that the godfather of the modern Barca and his predecessor did.
Even his own players greeted news of the Asturian's impending departure with public indifference, choosing instead to focus on yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 6-1 hammering of Sporting Gijon, and not a moment which had reverberated around the football world.
A reluctance to utilise the club's fabled La Masia academy, the brainchild of Cruyff which was later embraced by Guardiola, and a preference for a more direct style of play, compared to his illustrious predecessors, have overshadowed Enrique's more notable achievements.
In two-and-a-half years, he has won eight out of 10 titles on offer, with a likely La Liga and Copa del Rey double extending the statistic to 10 trophies from 13 by the end of this season.
Yet, emulating Guardiola's feat of winning the Champions League, La Liga and the Copa del Rey in a debut season at the helm, and bettering his follow-up campaign by retaining two of those trophies, failed to escape the sceptre of his deified former teammate's legacy.
Guardiola hailed Enrique as the perfect coach - a man who had played "unbelievable football with unbelievable players".
But the Manchester City manager also knows the reasoning behind Enrique's departure all too well - he was in exactly the same position just five years ago.
His own decision to step down from Barcelona in 2012 was driven by exhaustion, and spawned a legacy that reached beyond his four-year tenure.
It was the reason he has emphatically vowed never to return to his hometown club. That time, he claims, has passed.
The Catalan club are also very different to the one that he left in the late Tito Vilanova's hands.
Barcelona continue to market themselves as "more than a club", unique from the rigmarole of modern football.
Except they are currently no different to those they claim to rail against.
Political in-fighting rages over its mere fabric while player power now reigns supreme.
Lionel Messi's next destination now remains firmly aligned to the future success of the Blaugrana. Enrique's impending departure should have put paid to the Argentinian's exit strategy, but such is the current power vacuum that an otherwise formality also now appears far from certain.
The pair's tempestuous relationship has underpinned Barca's last three years, not least after the No. 10 was credited with influencing Gerardo Martino's short-lived spell as Vilanova's successor in 2013, which ended 12 months later with the absence of major silverware.
With seemingly no imminent extension to Messi's current deal, set to expire in 2018, the identity of Enrique's replacement has become increasingly imperative - not least to ward off Guardola's hopes of a potential reunion at the Etihad Stadium in the near future.
The appointment of another fellow Argentinian is likely to have a happier outcome for both Barcelona's talisman and the club itself than Martino's brief stint.
Jorge Sampaoli, taking Sevilla to within touching distance of the La Liga title in his debut campaign, appears the obvious choice.
Attempting to turn back the clock, however, is the club hierarchy's preference with Ernesto Valverde identified as one of the leading candidates.
The current Althetic Bilbao coach spent two years under Cruyff's tutelage as a player and would undo four years of "tiki taka" deviation.
That is the theory at least.
Whether Messi would sign up for a fresh transition on the cusp of turning 30 remains to be seen.
Surrounding himself with home comforts at City this summer could not be more opportune as his international teammate Sergio Aguero faces a similar dilemma over his own future.
It really is now or never for the four-time Ballon d'Or winner to make the move to the EPL.