LaLiga president Javier Tebas has been vocal about his opposition to the UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations, stating that they are “a disaster” and that he would be willing to take legal action against UEFA. However, PSG’s interest in signing Neymar could cause a major shift in how FFP is enforced.
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Barcelona president Joan Laporta said during a press conference on Friday that Lionel Messi will not be returning to the club after 21 years, as revealed on the club’s website on Thursday.
You can read more about the backstory here, but Laporta insisted on blaming Messi’s departure on LaLiga’s financial constraints and the terrible finances he inherited from predecessor Josep Maria Bartomeu, claiming there was no turning back.
– Laporta on Messi’s departure: “There is no player who is greater than the club.” PSG is in discussions with Messi about a transfer, according to sources, and Guardiola has ruled out Messi joining Man City.
With three and a half weeks remaining in the transfer window, many believe that the 34-year-old Argentine great will join Paris Saint-Germain, but… there’s always a but. And there’s a lot more that makes sense.
Q: How do you do it? “The discussion was finished,” Laporta said, adding that he didn’t want to offer anybody “false optimism.”
A: As I said yesterday, there are three facts that are true when you break anything down into its constituent parts: Messi wants to remain (at least according to Laporta), Barcelona wants him to stay, and it’s clear that staying is in LaLiga’s best interests. So it seems illogical that there is no way to strike an agreement when three parties have a say in Messi’s future and all want the same thing.
Q: While Laporta said that he “anticipated LaLiga to be more flexible” with spending limits, he also stated that the league was under pressure from other teams to follow the regulations…
A: Of course. Rules are rules, but Messi brings value to the league as a whole, and the trickle-down effect benefits most teams. Even giants like Real Madrid value a Clasico in which they play Barcelona with Messi more than one in which they face Barcelona without Messi.
That’s why it doesn’t seem quite right, and Jaume Roures agrees.
Messi’s time at Barcelona seems to be over, as the club and league fight about who is to blame. Getty Images/Peter Salado/Quality Sport Images
Q: Who is Jaume Roures and why is he significant?
A: Roures is a member of the Barcelona “socio,” but he’s also the creator of Mediapro, a Spanish media business that specializes in film and sports rights. He has a stronger network than others, informing Spanish radio station RAC1 that “LaLiga had authorized the registration of Messi’s new contract,” which he “personally confirmed.” But, as Roures points out, “Something unexpected occurred… I have no idea what occurred.”
Q: What might have gone wrong?
A: Some have suggested that Messi’s team was unhappy with the agreement Laporta offered at the last minute. Or, as we speculated yesterday, this is Laporta’s power move, aimed at Javier Tebas and LaLiga in the wake of the CVC Capital Partners transaction and the Super League.
On Friday, Laporta addressed the CVC agreement, stating that the only way to get LaLiga to rubber-stamp the Messi contract was for Barcelona to rubber-stamp the CVC arrangement. And, according to Laporta, doing so would be “against the club’s interests” and “would have mortgaged their future.”
After Lionel Messi’s departure was announced by Joan Laporta, Martin Ainstein describes the mood in Barcelona.
Q: It nearly seems like Laporta is accusing LaLiga and its president, Javier Tebas, of blackmailing the club by informing them that the only way they could ratify Messi’s contract was if they backed the CVC agreement (which has yet to be approved by Liga clubs). Is that correct?
Tebas does not believe so. He claimed on Twitter that the CVC agreement would have benefited all teams, including Barcelona. He further hinted that “till a few hours ago,” Laporta was on board with it. So, yes, Messi seems to be a pawn in the CVC squabble.
But, even putting that aside, Laporta presented certain statistics that don’t appear to add up…
LATEST NEWS | Leo Messi has decided to leave FC Barcelona.
5 August 2021 — FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona)
Q: What do you mean?
A: For starters, he claimed the club’s finances were audited again and they found they were in worse shape than they’d previously believed, so he didn’t have six months to work out Messi’s contract. But why bargain if you don’t know what your budget is?
Laporta also said that they are “near the limit” of what LaLiga regulations allow them to do without Messi’s contract, but that they expect to still be able to register their four new signings: Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Emerson, and Eric Garcia. Barcelona will pay approximately $40 million in wages for those four players, plus another $10 million for Emerson’s transfer fee. That’s around $50 million, or approximately the amount Messi allegedly agreed to reduce his pay to: 20 million euros net or after taxes.
Q: When you put it that way, it looks like it’s a no-brainer: those four players or Messi…
A: It’s not quite that easy, and Laporta himself admitted that the figures were not comparable, but that’s what they imply. Unless, of course, Messi was going to cost Barcelona more than they had bargained for.
Julien Laurens weighs in on the recent developments about Lionel Messi’s future at Barcelona.
Q: Can’t Barcelona attempt to reduce costs by selling players or persuading them to accept pay cuts?
A: I suppose so. Barca is having trouble finding new teams for its undesirable players since their salaries are so expensive that the clubs who might utilize them can’t pay them. And, I suppose, they don’t want to give up valuable young players like Frenkie de Jong or Pedri for another two years of Messi, which is reasonable.
Laporta claims that there is no more “room to maneuver” in terms of salary cuts, but you have to wonder what veterans like Sergio Busquets or Gerard Pique, who are hugely committed and loyal to Barcelona and earn huge salaries, would say if asked, “Hey, would you take a pay cut if it meant playing the final years of your career alongside Messi?”
Q: What is Messi’s take on all of this?
A: We don’t know since he hasn’t said anything yet. You think he wants to remain and is prepared to reduce his pay even more. And, if it’s all about the CVC deal and convincing LaLiga to be more flexible, he could even support Laporta’s efforts. He probably wouldn’t like being exploited as a pawn in the never-ending battle between Barcelona and Tebas.
Q: At the very least, the list of possible Messi destinations seems to have been reduced…
A: Yes, Pep Guardiola said that new signing Jack Grealish would wear the No. 10 shirt and that Messi was “not a target at this time,” leaving PSG as the only club willing – and able – to pay close to $200 million for two years of Messi’s wages (reports suggest that his new club will not receive the “Messi hometown discount” and will spend well north of $90 million per season).
Q: What is PSG? They’ve been on a shopping spree, having already recruited big-money free agents like Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum, Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos, and Milan’s Gianluigi Donnarumma. They also paid $70 million for Inter’s Achraf Hakimi. How are they going to be able to pay all of this?
A: That’s a good question. Even without Messi, you’d expect their salary cost to skyrocket, and don’t forget that Kylian Mbappe’s contract, which ends in June 2022, has yet to be renewed. If he signs a new contract, he’ll be earning money comparable to Messi’s.
But, I suppose, Messi is seen as a transformative player, raising the club’s profile even higher, bringing up new commercial opportunities, and so on. Not to mention the pitching advice he provides you. The club has said that they are examining the issue, and PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino (a Rosario native like Messi) is clearly open to the idea.
– Sources: Messi’s Barcelona contract is in jeopardy – Messi timeline: Breaking down his 20 years at Barcelona – Social media responds to Messi news – Messi timeline: Breaking down his 20 years at Barcelona
If you were a cynic, you’d say that PSG’s Qatari owners are more focused on the short term, with the Qatar World Cup coming up in late 2022.
Q: How would Messi fit into PSG’s lineup?
A: You’re assuming Neymar and Mbappe in a front three, which would be quite delicious. I’m not sure how strategically sound that is, but skill beats tactics every day of the week. Plus, in recent years, PSG’s strategy has resembled that of the NBA: a handful of superstars on max contracts, a slew of solid mid-size stars, and a slew of lesser players to round out the roster.
(By the way, I say this with the greatest respect for individuals like Leandro Paredes and Juan Bernat…)
Sam Marsden, a Barcelona reporter, discusses if Barcelona President Joan Laporta expects a response from LaLiga if Messi departs.
Q: How about financial transparency?
A: It’s now on hold owing to the effect of COVID-19. In the long run, UEFA is working on new regulations, but everything is up in the air right now. For the time being, it’s more about who can come up with the cash than it is about who can balance the books.
Q: How appealing would PSG be to Messi? It’s not going to be money: he already has enough…
A: I suppose he wants to try something different, and he’s been a fan of Pochettino for a long time. He’ll also get to see Neymar again. He can still fight for the Champions League, of course, and winning a fifth must be a top goal for him.
Some have speculated that it is a less physically demanding league, allowing him to recover and return completely fit in Qatar 2022, when he may try one more time to win the World Cup with Argentina. Perhaps there’s some truth to it as well…
But I have a feeling this isn’t finished yet. We need to hear from Messi as soon as possible. We need to get a sense of how the Barcelona supporters will react. Tebas must be contacted (and, more importantly, other LaLiga clubs need to hear from Tebas in terms of how his departure might affect the CVC deal and short-term LaLiga revenues). And, since the well isn’t infinite, PSG must ensure that having Messi in 2021-22 doesn’t mean seeing Mbappe in a different team’s shirt in 2022-23.
So, maybe I’m romantic, but I believe there will be more twists and turns ahead. And my gut feeling is that they’ll find a way to retain him.
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