Dramatic turning point in the Lionel Messi case: on Thursday evening, FC Barcelona confirmed in four thin sentences that the six-time world footballer from Argentina is leaving the club of his life with immediate effect. It was true that “an agreement was reached between FC Barcelona and Leo Messi with the clear intention of both sides to sign a new contract today,” the statement said. However, this agreement could not be formalized because of “economic and structural hurdles”.
These hurdles were the norms of the Spanish league association LFP, wrote the club. Further details were initially not disclosed, but an apodictic sentence: “In view of this situation, Lionel Messi will no longer be associated with FC Barcelona.” A confirmation by Messi himself was initially not available.
The news hit the Spanish football world in general, and Barcelona in particular, like the proverbial bombshell. At the beginning of the week, Joan Laporta, who had only returned to the presidency in March, publicly announced that Messi intended to continue his career in Barcelona. The agreement is on the right track, protested Laporta. In the election campaign around the turn of the year, he had declared that he wanted to ensure that Messi remained.
Messi wanted to terminate his contract with immediate effect in the summer of 2020. At that time there should have been concrete interest from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. However, concerns about a legal battle led Messi to stay after all. His most recent working paper ended on June 30th.
In those days, a fundamental agreement on the new contract is said to have been reached. Messi allegedly agreed to cut his gross earnings by half from allegedly just under € 140 million annually in order to sign a new five-year deal. The newspaper The country According to the terms of payment had also been agreed. They should enable the billion-dollar indebted club to meet its obligation to significantly reduce its salary expenses – by up to 200 million euros for the 2021/22 season.
Messi’s salary would have fallen, then increased again exponentially
Allegedly, Messi’s salary would have dropped to € 20 million net in the first year of his contract, but increased exponentially in the second year before it was lowered again in the remaining seasons. As recently as Wednesday, the club leaked that Messi’s new contract was basically dry and should be signed on Thursday. The intention is also for Messi, 34, who made his professional debut at FC Barcelona in 2004, to pull on the Barca shirt in the season opener against Juventus Turin on Sunday and address the supporters of the traditional Spanish club in a speech. At the same time, Spain’s league association LFP announced that they had concluded a billion-dollar deal with the private equity company CVC, which should bring FC Barcelona an amount of around 250 million euros into the coffers. Then on Thursday the spectacular roll backwards followed.
Messi returned from vacation in Ibiza on Wednesday; on Thursday his father and manager Jorge Messi traveled to Barcelona and met with representatives of the club. In the late afternoon rumors circulated that negotiations between the parties involved had failed – for reasons that were only speculated about. Here it was said that Laporta had asked for a further cut in salary; there it was heard that Messi’s party had not approved the 50 percent pay cut. Another version announced that Messi was not convinced that he could really play for titles with the new Barcelona squad. The commitment of Messi’s intimate Sergio Kun Agüero (and the Dutchman Memphis Depay) were not enough for him. He also called for the purchase of his Argentine compatriot Cristian Romero, who is said to be facing a move to Tottenham Hotspur. Shortly before 8 p.m., Barcelona then sent the communiqué, in which the end of a phenomenal era was recorded. Club boss Laporta wants to speak in a press conference on Friday.
Messi joined FC Barcelona in 2000 – and made his professional debut in 2004. He was involved in four Champions League victories, ten Spanish championships, seven cup wins and three triumphs at the Club World Cup. Among other things. He broke countless individual records and scored 672 goals in 767 competitive games for Barca.
It remains to be seen where Messi might head. Speculations about Paris St. Germain, in particular, are likely to receive new fuel; Manchester City announced the signing of England international Jack Grealish on Thursday evening, and Aston Villa will receive a transfer fee of more than £ 100 million. Only one thing is clear: Messi can join any club in the world as a player without a contract.