- Lionel Messi will not return to Barcelona after financial issues scuttled agreement on a new contract.
- Messi and Barcelona had tentatively reached agreement on a new contract but the financial terms are untenable under the Spanish La Liga salary cap rules.
- French Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain has reportedly made overtures to Messi’s representatives.
Lionel Messi will not return to Barcelona after a new contract agreement could not be reached between the Argentina captain and the Spanish La Liga side. Messi has been a free agent since June 30 and there were initial reports that a tentative agreement on a contract extension had been reached in late July. This was rendered irrelevant today as the financial terms of the deal would not be allowed under La Liga salary cap rules. Barca president Joan Laporta has scheduled a news conference for 11 AM CET (5 AM EDT/2 AM PDT) on Friday where he is expected to address the situation in detail.
“Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations).”
“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.”
“FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandizement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.”
Barcelona also posted a Messi career highlight video on Twitter:
The team is clearly gutted by this development–the FC Barcelona website is practically eulogizing Messi:
Messi expressed desire to leave Barcelona last year after the team crashed out in the Champions League quarterfinals. There was a year left on his contract, however, and he eventually decided not to take Barcelona to court over the matter. Joan Laporta’s election as Barcelona president in early March 2021 was seen as a positive development toward keeping Messi under contract but this effort has now apparently hit a road block in the La Liga financial rules.
Barcelona is the only European league team that Messi has ever played for. He entered the team’s academy in 2000 and has went on to play 778 games for Barca. He broke Xavi Hernandez’s all time appearance record last season. At age 34, he’s widely considered to be the best football player in the world and has the resume to prove it. Messi holds the Barcelona club record for goals scored (672) and in his tenure the team has won 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns. He has won the Ballon d’Or–annually awarded to the best soccer player in the world–on six occasions.
So what’s next for Messi? Reports suggest that French Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain has already been in contact with Messi. In fact, there is speculation that several PSG players are ‘working behind the scenes’ to make this happen:
It’s worth noting that Messi spent some portion of his vacation a few days ago in Ibiza with his old Barca buddy Neymar and Euro winner Marco Verratti and Copa America winners Ángel Di María and Leandro Paredes. Are the PSG players working behind the scenes to make this happen?
BetOnline.ag has posted a betting market on Messi’s next team with PSG a huge favorite:
LIONEL MESSI NEXT TEAM
PSG -250 Manchester City +550 Any MLS club +1000 Inter Milan +1000 Newells Old Boys +1600 Chelsea +1800 Manchester United +1800 Juventus +2000 Liverpool +2000 Bayern Munich +3300
Implied probability at -250 is a whopping 71.4%. Although there has been renewed talk of a salary cap in Ligue 1 due to the massive financial blow of the COVID-19 pandemic for now there is none. There is concern about the financial stability of some Ligue 1 teams PSG is definitely not among them. In April 2021, Forbes reported a valuation of $2.5 billion USD for PSG making them the ninth most valuable soccer team in the world. The magazine also reported a 129% increase in the team’s value over the past two years. It’s doubtful that any other Ligue 1 team is worth half of what PSG is–they were the only team from the league in the top twenty on the Forbes list. That fact that PSG has won 9 of the last 11 Ligue 1 titles is obviously not a coincidence.
There are some soccer media types in France that aren’t buying the ‘Messi to leave Barca’ story suggesting it is some type of ruse by the team or the player. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy or anything but were I setting the odds I’d make a return to Barca the second betting favorite. I could see the French soccer hierarchy taking drastic action to put this broken egg back together again.
Second favorite Manchester City has expressed interest in the past but just signed Jack Grealish from Aston Villa spending £100 million (around $140 million USD) in the process. FWIW, Manchester City is #6 on the Forbes list with a valuation of $4 billion USD.