Once a near impossible statement is now an unfortunate reality. Since the young age of 13, now 34-year-old Lionel Messi is leaving FC Barcelona.
4x Champions League Winner
10x Spanish League Winner
7x Copa Del Rey Winner
8x Spanish Super Cup Winer
6x Ball d'Or Awards
672 Goals in 778 Appearances
All-Time Barcelona Match Leader.
21 years and now it is goodbye.
But how did this happen? In 2020, the superstar was unhappy with his team. Frustrated and angry, Messi wrote to the team. In his letter, he stated that he would exercise a clause in his contract. This would allow him to leave the club and allow Barcelona not to pay a transfer fee. Why the harsh breakup letter? Well, Messi wasn't too thrilled with the off-field planning that the organization was formulating. He also wasn't too happy that they dismissed his head coach, Ernesto Valverde. He questioned how hard Barcelona tried to keep Neymar. This storm was brewing for a while.
With the threat of legal battles, he decided to annul the statement and remain with the club until his contract is finished, which was August 2021. A year later, and he had no intentions of leaving. You can see it at his press conference, Messi was heartbroken by the decision.
Back in 2013, La Liga introduced a rule about a floating salary cap. Teams player wages and acquisition costs could not exceed 70% of a club's revenue. Enter COVID-19, which resulted in delayed matches and halting revenue streams. Barcelona president, Joan Laporta, revealed that the club lost nearly $570 million (€487 million euros) last season. The team also finished third in La Liga, which was its worst showing since 2008.
According to ESPN, pre-pandemic Barcelona was only permitted to spend up to $710 million on the total team salary. That was then reduced to $411 million after last season, and the number is supposed to fall even further. That doesn't help the team when Messi's contract calls for him to almost take up a quarter of that share ($82 million per year /€70 million Euros ). He earned more than $652 million dollars (€555 million Euros) between 2017 and 2021, according to extracts from his contract that were published by El Mundo, the Spanish newspaper. So with this rule, a Messi reunion would be near impossible.
Another daunting reality of why the deal went south, is because of financial hardships. Barcelona has been in the whole for quite some time. Reports are saying that the club is more than $1 billion dollars (€850 million Euros) in debt. They need to cut wages to field a team and to meet the La Liga Financial Fair Play rules. There were talks that a massive private equity firm, proposed by La Liga, would provide Barca with a massive cash infusion of over $3 billion dollars. The price though would be 10% of the league's revenue and 10% of a commercial entity. Barcelona and Real Madrid expressed opposition, which still needs to be voted on by the other clubs in the league. Messi was prepared to take a 50% salary cut but league regulations made that an impossibility. Barcelona even had lined up two new deals with Messi, firstly a two-year deal made payable over five years, and then a separate five-year deal, but could not get either deal done because of La Liga's Financial Fair Play rules.
"We have to abide by La Liga's rules, even though we had hoped they would be more flexible," To remain within 'Fair Play' restrictions, Barça would have to agree to a contract that basically imply mortgaging the club for half a century, for the television broadcasting rights. I am not prepared to mortgage the club's rights for anyone. Our institution is above everything else, including the best player in the world. We will always be eternally grateful to him." - Barcelona President, Joan Laporta
Essentially, Messi would have had to play for free for Barcelona even to afford him, or Barcelona would be mortgaged off to meet his requirements. That is a tough pill to swallow. This move marks a major shift in the futbol world. The Barcelona dynasty is facing a new chapter in life. La Liga will have an interesting shift. Messi will make his next move, to Paris, where he reunites with Neymar and teams up with Sergio Ramos and Kylian Mbappé, in hopes to lead PSG to a UEFA Championship.
If there is one thing you take away from this blog, there is some big-time "f-u" money in the world of futbol.