Everything that Barcelona fans were fearing has finally come to pass. Lionel Messi will no longer be representing their team, after his departure was officially announced in a brief club statement issued on Thursday 4th August. The door now closes on what remains what of the most spectacular player and club relationships, which had spanned some 21 years.
From the FC Barcelona Academy to his first team debut, aged just 16 years and 23 days in November 2003, Messi went on to become recognised as the greatest football player ever to have graced the beautiful game. He won every trophy that could be won at Barcelona, multiple times, along with being awarded a whole host of individual honours and accolades.
Thank you, Leo. pic.twitter.com/cdS9xWe8Me
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 5, 2021
Messi leaves a crater-sized hole that will be impossible to fill. His impact as a player has been so decisive for Barcelona, while the Argentine ace remained a constant, several different managers built entire teams around his phenomenal talent. Now, club and player alike must walk diverging paths and beyond an unforgettable legacy he leaves behind.
As this remarkable news begins to sink in, many of the best online betting sites for odds are already adjusting their football markets, including those offering promotions to attract new customers, along with enhanced prices for new sign-ups. Barcelona were amongst the favourites to win LaLiga heading into the new campaign, although now Messi no longer features, the Spanish giants could face a 2021-22 campaign filled with struggles. This makes comparing football odds all the more worthwhile.
Barcelona Point an Accusing Finger
“Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement” began the press release, regarding contract renewal negotiations between the player and club, “this cannot happen because of Spanish LaLiga regulations on player registration,” it concluded in the opening paragraph.
This message was clearly intended to point an accusing finger of blame towards Javier Tebas, the president of LaLiga, who had flatly refused to give the club any concessions. Tebas had already insisted Barcelona reduce costs in order to meet the stringent LaLigabudgetary limits, applicable to all clubs, before they would allow Messi to be registered in the squad.
Joan Laporta: “Negotiations with Leo Messi have ENDED. We can’t register Messi because of La Liga rules, they’re not flexible with us on salary limit. We had an agreement with Leo but we can’t register him.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 6, 2021
Way beyond the limits of those salary and spending caps, unable to offload other players or cut further costs quickly enough, Barcelona had hit a brick wall. Once that became patently clear, it was also impossible for Messi to renew his contract. Angry fans have since lambasted Tebas and LaLiga for their strictness, yet in fairness, these rules govern all 20 clubs. They are intended to protect clubs and promote sustainability.
Likewise, Tebas had always been perfectly clear and steadfast about the situation at Barcelona. Had any kind of special dispensation or treatment been afforded to Barcelona, it would have made an absolute mockery of establish LaLiga regulations. Every club in the competition must meet the same requirements, therefore, why should Barcelona be any different?
Legacy of Poor Economic Mismanagement
While the immediate blame from Barcelona was aimed at LaLiga, in truth, the current situation is entirely of their own making. Under the previous presidential regimes of Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu, the club had spent well beyond its means, debts continued to climb. Indeed, even a blissfully unaware Messi was also partly responsible.
Eventually, the bubble at Barcelona was always going to burst, which it did when Bartomeu was ousted as club president. It was at this point the game was up, the true extent of the dire economic situation at the club was beginning to come clear, amidst reports that Barcelona were had surpassed more than 1.3 billion Euros of debts and liabilities.
“Barca just can’t afford to pay Messi’s wages any more. They’ve been looking at different ways to sort it… but that’s just racking up extra debt into the future”
— David Ornstein (@David_Ornstein) August 5, 2021
As the highest paid sportsman of any kind in the world, previous boards at Barcelona constantly met the wage demands of Messi. Then the true cost of this magnificent player was leaked to the world, revealing Messi earned more than 550 million Eurosover four seasons. Meanwhile, he was blissfully unaware of what that meant for club finances.
When he won the presidential elections, Joan Laporta had no idea how bad things truly were. Despite promising to do everything within his power to keep Messi, once Laporta had the opportunity to stare down the rabbit hole at Barcelona, it gradually became clear he was fighting a losing battle. The dream of keeping Messi was no longer viable, even amidst reports of slashing his wages to “just” 70 million Euros per year.
Austere Future at Barcelona as Messi Heads Elsewhere
Messi scored 672 goals in 778 appearances for Barcelona, broke countless records and astonished anyone who ever had the fortune to watch him play football. There are simply not enough words or superlatives to describe his influence at Barcelona, and while the player now considers offers from elsewhere, amidst speculation surrounding a move to Paris Saint-Germain, the once mighty Barcelona are left to pick up the pieces.
This ultimately begs the question many fans will be asking – is any player, no matter how talented, ever worth more than the club he plays for? According to Barcelona club president Laporta, with the benefit of hindsight and following the unavoidable departure of Messi, the answer to that question is now a resounding no.Messi