For a football club known to be teetering on the brink of financial apocalypse, there were plenty of eyebrows raised when Barcelona announced they were handing Lionel Messi a new contract.
The Catalan giants have racked up debts believed to be close to the €1 billion mark, but nevertheless they still found a guaranteed €20 million per season to snap up Messi for the next five years.
Well, that was the plan, anyway….
Unfortunately, Barcelona’s world was turned upside down late on Thursday when it was revealed that they have been forced to let the 34-year-old leave the club. They wanted him to stay, he wanted to stay, but La Liga’s financial fair play rules have determined that Barca simply cannot afford to keep him.
The club’s president, Joan Laporta, has been speaking this morning after the decision, which has led to an atmosphere of mourning in the Catalan capital. He revealed that Barcelona could have kept Messi, but they would have had to forego their La Liga TV rights for the foreseeable future.
“I can’t make a decision that will affect the club for 50 years,” Laporta said.
“The club is over 100 years old, and it’s above everyone and everything, even above the best player of the world. We will always thank him for everything he’s done for us.
“In order to have fair play, we need to do this or make an effort which would put the club at risk. We couldn’t keep going with this and we needed to make a decision, which we have.”
Neymar, Mbappe, Messi? PSG Favourites to Strike
If you’re going to sign Messi, you’re going to need plenty of cash to make it happen even if he’s available on a free transfer.
At least €20 million a year is the going rate, and so it’s little wonder that PSG are the betting favourites to snap up the Argentine.
The cash-rich Parisians have the readies to make the deal happen, and that would see Messi link up with his former Barcelona buddy Neymar, prior Real Madrid nemesis Sergio Ramos and the devastatingly-good Kylian Mbappe.
Load up the Lionel Messi next club betting odds and you’ll see Barcelona listed as the second favourite. Confused? You should be. But there rumours that CVC, a private investment firm, is looking to pour money into La Liga….if they do, it’s not impossible that the Catalans would have extra capital with which to tie up a new deal for their talisman.
Third in the betting market are Manchester City, who may now have a choice to make – will they pursue Messi or will they place all their chips on the signing of Harry Kane? They have, of course, already splurged £100 million on Jack Grealish.
Another entry of note is ‘any MLS club’. Clearly, this is a bet that has legs given that there are 27 teams in the American league, however the salary cap system in place would make it very difficult for any MLS side to find the necessary resources – especially as they are deep into their season already.
Old romantics might note that Newell’s Old Boys are available at 25/1. That is the Argentine outfit where Messi started his career as a mere lad, although it would be some fairy tale if that was where the best player on the planet opted to appear next.