Saturday, October 16

Why did Lionel Messi leave Barcelona? Explaining what happened between Messi and the La Liga club

Just when it seemed like it was only a matter of days or even hours before there was a long-awaited announcement of the re-entry of free agent Lionel Messi to Barcelona with a new deal, the club announced just eight days before the start of a new league. season that Messi would not return.

Shortly thereafter, the club distributed a video tribute to Messi, transforming the once unthinkable scenario of Barcelona and Messi going their separate ways into reality.

There was a kind of warning when the Barcelona player The Spanish newspaper Marca reported that there was a different scenario in which to sign Messi would not be feasible. The club’s announcement came a couple of hours later, and it aimed directly at the Spanish league, La Liga.

Barcelona blames La Liga

Barcelona Declaration says, in no uncertain terms, that the club and the player wanted to make a deal (reports from recent weeks indicated that Messi was willing to accept a 50 percent reduction in salary for this to happen), but league regulations they made it impossible.

“Despite the fact that FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi have reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen due to LaLiga’s Spanish regulations on player registration,” read in the Barcelona statement.

“As a result of this situation, Messi will not stay at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club are ultimately not fulfilled.”

Under La Liga rules that were introduced in 2013, there is a floating salary cap for all teams that limits player salaries and acquisition costs to 70 percent of club revenue.

To meet that requirement after a drastic reduction in revenue due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, FC Barcelona entered this summer offseason needing to lose more than $ 200 million in wages just to sign Messi. But the low transfer activity across Europe meant that the Blaugrana did not come close to that figure, and on August 5, the club and the player realized that the transfer could not happen under the circumstances.

The announcement of a massive private equity investment in La Liga and its clubs the day before was interpreted by many as helping Barcelona balance the season’s player budget in a way that virtually guaranteed the Messi deal to materialize. Projections based on La Liga’s revenue sharing formulas meant that Barcelona benefited from a cash infusion of over $ 300 million, of which 15 percent would be used for player signings.

But interestingly, both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid, two of the most indebted La Liga clubs and both founding members of the failed separatist European Super League, voiced their opposition to the private equity deal with CVC Capital Partners, which is slated to be voted. for the 42 clubs in La Liga.

Observers say that accepting the deal would have meant that the clubs would join La Liga financially for decades to come and thus give up their Super League ambitions. It is the only way to explain why Barcelona, ​​which is supposedly in debt of more than a billion dollars, would reject that type of investment, which would have been on par with the projected cash advance of the planned Super League.

Was the Barcelona-Messi talk to show off?

There is a line of thought that Barcelona knew from the start that they would never be in a position to sign Messi and adjust his salary within the limits of the player budget for next season. Given the way the transfer season was shaping up, with no one accepting their high-paid players, there was no way Barcelona could make room for Messi according to league rules.

Because Barça waited until a week before the season and blamed La Liga and its onerous rules squarely, some outlets speculate that it was all a public relations tactic to help management get around the reaction of the major’s fans. club hero who was forced to leave. in light of a dire financial situation. It diverts attention from the years of mismanagement that have led to the massive debts that now weigh on the club during the economic challenges posed by the pandemic.

Some have come to suspect that Messi was also well aware that he was never going to sign with Barcelona and that perhaps he wanted to leave the club before a possible reconstruction. The “La Liga regulations” are a convenient excuse to leave the club while keeping its reputation intact with the fan base.

In the meantime, since he has no contract and is not required to be at camp, he is still on vacation and out of the media’s sight, with a good three weeks to resolve a new situation at the club.

Could it be a bluff? Could Messi come back?

Another group of cynics believe that Barcelona’s statement, which, curiously, has yet to be followed by a statement or a farewell message from Messi’s field, could be an attempt to somehow force LaLiga to change the rules. or create an exception for the club.

It is thought that La Liga as a company cannot afford to lose Messi, especially when it has just signed a television rights agreement with US broadcaster ESPN worth $ 175 million a year for eight years ($ 1.4 billion). What value would La Liga have without Messi?

But La Liga president Javier Tebas has been adamant in recent months that the rules will not be bent or special treatment will be given to Messi or Barcelona. If Barcelona, ​​with their backs to the wall, are lying, they are likely to be disappointed, especially as Thebes position is boosted by the private investment agreement and the rule changes a week before the season are very unlikely.

How is it different from Messi’s drama last summer?

Last year, the scene was very different. In the summer of 2020, with one year remaining on his four-year, $ 675 million contract with Barcelona, ​​Messi made his wish to leave public. He said he had a verbal agreement with then-president Josep Bartomeu that he would be released from his contract with the club.

But when it became clear that Bartomeu was unwilling to let the Barcelona legend walk, Messi refused to take the club onto the pitch as a matter of principle, opting to stay an extra season against his wishes.

Many believed that with Bartomeu leaving office and Joan Laporta taking his place earlier this year, there was a good chance Laporta would find a way to keep Messi in Barcelona given his close relationship with him during his previous tenure as club president. , when the club had the most successful career in its history.

But perhaps Laporta also knew the likely outcome early on despite campaigning for the presidency based on his ability to give the club the best chance of staying with Messi. The financial situation that Laporta (below) inherited is precarious, and he knew it. We are ready to learn more about the story when I speak to the media on Friday.

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What happens now?

Laporta is scheduled to hold a press conference on Friday morning in Spain to provide more details on Messi’s drama.

Observers will look for a public statement from Messi or any of his Barcelona teammates, especially as members of the media begin to descend on the team and Camp Nou ahead of Sunday’s annual Joan Gamper Cup against the giant. Italian Juventus.

They will also be on the lookout for rumors, which already have French giant Paris Saint-German as the team most likely to make a move for now-free agent Messi:

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