Will Barcelona retain Lionel Messi or will the Argentine superstar go to a different club?

Lionel Messi’s contract has expired on July 1 and the major question is will Barcelona retain his services or will the club’s debt be too much to handle.

Lionel Messi's four-year contract has expired and he is currently a free agent. (Image credit: Twitter)
By Siddharth vishwanathan | Jul 2, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

At the midnight of July 1, 2021, a massive turning point occurred in world football. Lionel Messi’s FC Barcelona contract has now expired. He is now a free agent. The 34-year-old has played with only one club throughout his entire career in Europe. FC Barcelona paid Euro 500 million for his contract four years ago. It was the highest sum paid for an athlete, even reportedly more than the NFL, NBA and MLB.

Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona is a match made in heaven. Ever since Messi came to the club, he has transformed the club to stratospheric heights. However, the last couple of seasons have been tough on Lionel Messi. The entire saga surrounding the departure of club president Josep Maria Bartomeu soured relations a lot. With FC Barcelona under a debt of Euro 1 billion, it will be interesting to see whether Lionel Messi stays with FC Barcelona.

FC Barcelona confident

According to Spanish media reports, club president Joan Laporta has stated that the priority of the club was to resolve the financial fair play issue. Laporta stated it was in the best interest for both the club and Messi that a solution comes out. He has also stated that Messi is eager to stay with the club from which he started his career.

If Messi’s deal with FC Barcelona does not work out, the ripple effects might be felt all over the football world.

Which are the clubs that can afford Lionel Messi?

With Messi’s Euro 500 million deal, it will be impossible for various clubs to match up to Messi’s expectations. According to the reports circulating in social media, Manchester City and Paris Saint-German are the clubs that have the capacity to sign Messi. In a sign of some twists, Nevill’s Old Boys also tried to tempt Messi to comeback to Argentina.

Nevill’s Old Boys are a club from Rosario of which Messi was part of in his growing years. Although that might never happen, the prospects of Manchester City acquiring him seem very high. When the Bartomeu controversy erupted, there were various reports that linked Messi to a move to Manchester City.

The club, the reigning Premier League champions, are managed by Pep Guardiola. Under Pep, Messi has had his best years in the business. A reunion might once again rejuvenate Messi as he looks to stake a claim for glory one year before the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Sad end to Lionel Messi and Barcelona?

In 2000, Lionel Messi had just finished a game of tennis. On a tissue paper which later became the most famous contract, Barcelona had confirmed that Messi was signed as a 13-year-old in the club’s youth system. He made rapid strides as a player and Barcelona never lost the faith in him.

At the age of 17, he scored his first goal for Barcelona during the match against Albacete in the 2005 La Liga season. His goal-scoring prowess was never in doubt, with Argentine legend Diego Maradona hailing him a genius. Reportedly, Inter Milan had offered Messi a EURO 467 million deal in 2006 but it never fell through.

From 2008 to 2015, Messi enjoyed his best years in the business. He was getting Euro 10.5 million per year, which Guardiola said was a ‘privilege’ Barcelona was enjoying. In 2012, he scored 91 goals and became the greatest. During that period, he also won the Ballon D’Or. In the coming years, Messi scored his 500th goal for Barcelona, that too in an El Clasico. Under Messi, Barcelona have won 36 trophies in 16 years with Barcelona.

But, with all the hurt that was caused in the UEFA Champions League in the last couple of seasons, Messi’s statement of wanting to end his career in Nou Camp might be tested.