Lionel Messi, the player many call the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT), is leaving FC Barcelona 18 years after making his professional debut. The club’s president Joan Laporta blames the previous regime for this. As things stand at the moment, the Argentine is on his way to sign for French side, PSG.
Barcelona announced on August 5 that Messi will not continue with the club in a statement. The club intended to extend the player’s contract by two years, but LaLiga’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules prevented it. The club President also said Messi wanted to stay and the Club wanted him to stay, but with the LaLiga rules it has not been feasible. Barcelona’s wage-to-turnover ratio must be 70% according to the rules.
The news of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona came as a shock to the football world. Since making his senior debut in 2003, Messi has spent his entire career with Barcelona, scoring 672 goals in 778 matches. This would make you wonder, why did Barcelona let him leave?
Official Reason Why Messi Left Barcelona
Messi is leaving FC Barcelona according to the official judgement, because the La Liga club is unable to fulfill the player’s new contract. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has been a free agent since July 1, after failing to reach an agreement on a new contract before his previous Barcelona deal expired on June 30.
The 34-year-old was supposed to sign a new five-year contract with the Catalan club, with his income slashed by half from £100 million to about £50 million per year, and he came to Barcelona after his holiday still expecting to do so. Messi had won the COPA America for the first time earlier.
Barca claim they are hampered by financial and structural barriers, blaming La Liga and its former ownership. While speaking in a press conference , the President said “We were all thinking for two years but if he wanted more, we could negotiate but two years at Barca is what we all wanted. We wanted the post-Messi period to start in two years. We had to move it forward.”
Prior to his election as president, Laporta committed to keep Messi at Barcelona and had reached an agreement on a new deal. However, due to the figures involved, Barcelona would have been in violation of La Liga’s Financial Fair Play rules, which they agreed to in 2011/12.
Barcelona have been struggling to reduce their wage bill in line with La Liga’s rules for the coming season, and have been in talks with vice-captains Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, and Sergi Roberto about reducing their salaries by 40% in exchange for contract extensions, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic.
They’ve also tried to sell Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti, and Martin Braithwaite, but have yet to find a buyer for any of them, and even free agent additions like Memphis Depay have demanded large contracts and signing-on fees.
La Liga wage caps are calculated prospectively depending on a club’s financial condition, and they must stick to them to avoid financial penalties in the future. Barcelona is only allowed to spend 70% of its revenue on salaries, but with Messi’s new contract, the club would have spent 110%, and that percentage stands at 95% even without him.
Laporta himself laid the blame completely on the previous administration, which was led by Josep Bartomeu, who resigned in October of last year. According to him, “The previous administration’s poor management, which we inherited, is the foundation of everything,”.
The Problem With La Liga
FC Barcelona’s relationship with La Liga is at an all-time low. The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, has always had a strained relationship with Barcelona and Real Madrid, the league’s two biggest teams. Tensions had already increased this year as a result of the failed European Super League effort.
The fact that Messi’s contract is up for renewal hasn’t helped matters. La Liga’s executive committee agreed to sell 10% of the league to CVC, a global investment fund, for €2.7 billion, with €2.43 billion distributed among the 42 clubs in Spain’s top two divisions. On the surface, this was supposed to be a positive development given the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
What is Messi’s new club?
Messi is believed to have been taken aback by the collapse of his Barcelona contract, and that he had no Plan B when he learned he would have to find a new club. However, not long after, the Argentine’s team went in talks with Paris Saint-Germain about bringing him to the French capital to reconnect with former Barcelona teammate Neymar.
PSG has already signed Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, Wijnaldum, and Hakimi this summer, but adding Messi to Paris would significantly increase their spending. The club has once faced a UEFA inquiry into its compliance with continental-wide Financial Fair Play laws in order to compete in European competition, and won at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in 2019.
Messi will exceed his future colleague Gianluigi Donnarumma as the most valuable free transfer in history, with a market value of €80 million. As mentioned earlier, prior to the start of the season, PSG had already secured the services of fellow free agents Georginio Wijnaldum and Sergio Ramos.
Many FC Barcelona fans in Nigeria and other countries are sure to watch PSG games this season as their iconic Number 10 has joined the French side. If you were wondering why Messi left Barca, I’m sure you know why now.