Leo Messi has taken the first step to leave Barça. He has announced, via a bureaufax, that he wants to leave the Camp Nou. She has already completed her long Barça cycle (she has been in Barcelona for 20 years) and is planning new experiences. He wants to leave for free, something that Barça does not contemplate, but the captain still considers that, now, the time has come to explore football beyond the Camp Nou.
As published today El Periódico de Catalunya, from the same publishing group of Diari de Girona, there are three clubs waiting for him with open arms, aware of both Paris SG, where he would meet Neymar, and Manchester City, where he would have Guardiola as coach again, as well as Inter’s financial difficulties which involve this operation. Barça, waiting for the legal battle with the star to begin, recalls that its termination clause is 700 million euros.
Whether or not Messi executes this termination clause, which he intends to accept unilaterally, despite the fact that Barça’s management states that it has already expired because the deadline expired on 10 June. But the star believes he will be able to find a legal formula to start his first adventure outside the Camp Nou, now 33 years old.
1 · The salary makes it difficult to return with Neymar
Messi charges more than Neymar and Mbappé together. This is the great difficulty that Paris SG faces if it wants to rebuild a part of the Barça trident in the Parc des Princes. The salary of the Barça star conditions all the plans.
Unless, of course, it involves the departure of Neymar or Mbappé to make a hole in the salary scale of the French club. Both have contracts until 2022. But PSG would seek, above all, to extend the continuity of Mbappé (21 years) or Neymar (28) in the face of the experience of Messi (33).
It remains to be seen whether the French team would be exposed to bordering (or exceeding) the limits of financial ‘fair play’ if it ends up seducing Messi to complete a dream trio with Neymar and Mbappé.
2 · The ‘Kun factor’ plus the ‘Pep factor’
As reported by ESPN, for weeks the City has been working on an economic plan to find out if it has the financial muscle to take Messi to the Premier. He also has a couple of elements in his favor to gain the trust of the Argentine star.
In Manchester there is Kun Agüero, one of his best friends in football, whom he wanted to take six years ago to the Camp Nou, and Di Maria. In the end, Barça ended up signing Suárez, making him one of their references in the last Barça stage.
In addition, City is being closely watched by UEFA after the TAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) overturned the two-year sanction without being able to participate in European competitions. Now, he can play the Champions. And there is Guardiola, who landed in England in 2016, the coach Messi has best understood in his sporting career. “The best coach I’ve ever had is Guardiola,” said the Barça captain on several occasions.
3 · The interist dream
For weeks, Inter have been excited about the possibility of signing Messi and not just because Jorge, his father and agent, has bought a flat in Milan, and has also established his tax residence.
As happened with Ronaldo, when he left Madrid to leave for Juventus, Italian taxation is much more favorable for footballers than English (City) or French (Paris SG). There is also the Conte factor, the Inter coach, who was confirmed in office this past Tuesday after a meeting with Steven Zhang, the young Chinese owner (29 years old) of the Lombard club.
He had the money to face a pharaonic signing, but the crisis caused by the pandemic has limited his resources, so Zhang told Conte that they will only sign if they sell one of their big players first. Lautaro, the new man pursued by Barça for months, fits into this portrait of the market drawn by the ambitious owner of Inter.