Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi will not be returning to Barcelona for season 2021/22 as expected. The 34-year-old is a free agent after his contract with the Catalan giants expired. He was widely expected to sign a new five-year deal with the club.
However, on Thursday, his lifelong club released a statement stating Messi will not continue playing for them. The move is against both the club and the player’s wishes. It is beyond Barcelona’s control though, as mounting financial problems have made giving Messi a new contract impossible.
Worrying financial issues
Barcelona have been in financial trouble for the last few years, which has certainly not been helped by Covid-19. The Catalan giants are attempting to get some players off their massive wage bill to comply with La Liga fair play rules. They have reportedly attempted to sell Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti and Martin Braithwaite.
However, none of the high earners has managed to secure moves elsewhere. The lack of sales this summer means that there is no financial way for Barcelona to resign Messi.
There were reports that Messi was willing to cut his reported £100m per year wage in half to make the deal work. However, it seems that Barcelona may even struggle to stretch to that number. It seems unthinkable, but it seems that the Catalan giants really could start next season without their talisman.
Messi is one of the best
As we all know Barcelona are not just losing a footballer, they are losing one of the best players of all time. The 34-year-old has won six Ballon d’Or’s and even in his mid-thirties is still head and shoulders above most players on the planet.
Lionel Messi has spent his whole career at Barcelona scoring an incredible 672 goals in 778 appearances for the Catalan club. Even last season the Argentinian scored 30 times. His statistics speak for themselves and for Barcelona to lose him is not just a blow to the club, but also La Liga in general.
Arguably Messi was the last remaining superstar in the Spanish top-flight. His exit could have a massive effect on the brand as a whole.
Where next for Lionel Messi?
The favourites to sign the Argentinian international are big-spending PSG, who have been the kings of picking up free agents this summer. The Parisians have already signed Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Georginio Wijnaldum on frees this summer.
The Parisians have long been linked with a move for Messi, which would reunite the star with his former Barcelona teammate Neymar in the French capital. Another club constantly linked with a move for Messi is Manchester City, managed of course by former Blaugrana head coach Pep Guardiola. However, City have just signed midfielder Jack Grealish for £100m from Aston Villa and there would be question marks over their wage bill.
Most clubs would love to sign Messi, but in truth, there are very few that have the financial power to sign the veteran star. PSG and City are probably the only ones capable of even thinking of signing the Argentinian international.
While clubs weigh up moves for Messi, there is still speculation that Barcelona will somehow manage to work out their situation to resign the forward. If they do not then it will be highly fascinating to see where he is plying his trade next season.
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Where will Lionel Messi be playing his football in season 2021/22?