Inability to negotiate potential departures of Lionel Messi, Raphael Varane could haunt La Liga badly

Messi, 34, is technically a free agent as of July 1, with his contract running down before Barca could finalise terms on a new deal.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have been the front-running clubs interested in signing him. (Image Credit: Twitter)

La Liga seemed set to wrestle the limelight away from Premier League when Neymar and Gareth Bale were signed by Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively. The Brazilian represented the addition of one of the best players in world football. Neymar joining Lionel Messi made the Barcelona attack one to watch out for. Bale was arguably the best footballer in the Premier League at the time of his departure. The Welsh player’s link-up with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema presented an enticing combination. La Liga ratings did enjoy a massive rise as two of the greatest teams in world football faced off, with the presence of some of the best in the business.

Neymar’s departure for record sum proves deadly

However, things changed when Neymar left Barcelona for Paris St Germain for a record deal. While La Liga attempted its best to prevent the deal from going through raising one concern after the other, the Brazilian eventually made his way to Ligue 1 marking the conclusion of a long transfer saga. Neymar’s departure hit the league badly considering the fact that he was considered the next big superstar after Lionel Messi. As La Liga rested its hopes on Gareth Bale, the Welshman soon found himself relegated to the sidelines due to injuries bringing it down to a face-off between Messi and Ronaldo yet again.

While the duo battled it out, it failed to generate the level of interest witnessed in the past due to a lack of other players at the same level. In such a scenario, the departure of Ronaldo for Serie A club Juventus left Real Madrid weakened immensely. Barcelona further witnessed a decline in quality, failing to capture the limelight for their performances as was the case at one stage.

Varane and Messi’s exits could prove costly

The ongoing summer transfer window threatens to hit the league further following the potential departures of Raphael Varane and Messi, having witnessed the exit of Sergio Ramos. The Argentinian is a free agent officially for the first time in 17 years, having played for the Spanish giants throughout his career. Barcelona consider the superstar their greatest asset and the most valuable gift ever possible. Messi is hailed as the man who would lead the club on to success in the toughest of circumstances, going on to retire at the Spanish club with a beautiful farewell. The attacker with his humble attitude and simplistic approach enjoys the love and affection of the masses with the supporters chanting out his name at every stage.

However, things have certainly changed since last summer when the 34-year-old publicly announced his desire to leave the club. The footballer rebelled against the management, with some embarrassing statements which left the fans in a state of utmost distress. The potential departure of a man who was once considered the club’s greatest ever footballer and the most faithful servant ever, was unfathomable, to say the least. The player was all set to depart for English club Manchester City led by manager Pep Guardiola for a free transfer, but was forced to reconsider after the Spanish club announced a hefty release clause which would have to be paid out for the player’s exit.

Though Messi continued to represent Barcelona, the relationship has been a tense one with the Argentinian eventually refusing to put pen on paper till this stage. La Liga needs to resolve this scenario as astutely as possible, considering the footballer’s impact with regard to revenue and the need for an effective replacement who can emerge as a commercial figure.

Barcelona are looking to wrap up a contract renewal as soon as possible according to Spanish football writer Guillem Balague.

“Barcelona are pushing for a quick solution but there are still things to negotiate and no news is expected on Thursday. They want him to sign as soon as possible, but the timings will be dictated by the resolution of all the details that have not yet been agreed – such as tax issues, Messi’s wages and fitting the new contract within La Liga’s financial fair play rules – to keep the Argentine, the club will have to reduce their wage bill by around 200m euros. There is synergy between both parties and Messi has not listened to any other club yet,” he said as quoted by BBC.

Varane is considered one of the best in the business, with his partnership alongside Sergio Ramos considered the platform on which Real Madrid’s historic hat-trick of Champions League titles was recorded. The French defender has been linked with a concrete move to Manchester United, with the player’s addition alongside Harry Maguire expected to set the stage for a solid defensive duo. The English club is confident that a deal for the player can be finalised for a fee in the region of 50 million Euros.

Varane’s departure will leave Real Madrid without the presence of two of the best defenders in world football, as well as arguably the greatest footballer’s exit if not sorted effectively. Tough steps await.

Arnab Mukherji

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