“This is the hardest moment. We had hurtful defeats, but football gives you a chance to avenge that. But there is no turning point to this.” These were Leo Messi’s last words as he said goodbye to his boyhood club Barcelona F.C. on Aug. 8, 2021. The greatest football player of all time to some, the Argentinian superstar was only 13 years old when he first set foot in the club. After 21 glorious years, Barcelona announced that they are unable to renew Messi’s contract due to “financial reasons” last week.
Messi began his professional career at Barca in 2004, in a league match against Espanyol. Even back then, most football experts knew that the young Argentinian prospect’s style reminded them of legendary Diego Armando Maradona, and he might be the next superstar to change world football. They were right, since he made his professional debut for Barca in 2004, Messi has won 10 La Liga, eight Spanish Super Cup, six Copa Del Rey, four Champions League, three FIFA Club World Cup and three UEFA Super Cup trophies with the club. In other words, Barcelona have won 35 percent of the trophies since their foundation in 1899 with the help of Messi. Individually, Messi shattered all records, his six Ballon D’or (the award given to the best footballer each year) trophies speak for themselves. He scored 671 goals for the Catalan side, the highest number of goals ever scored for a club. To put that into perspective, Barcelona TV had a special broadcast to air all the goals scored by Messi which lasted five hours and 15 minutes.
Then, why did Barcelona let go of the greatest player of all time? The short and simple answer is that the Spanish League Board regulated Barcelona’s finances so strictly that the club was not able to renew their contract with the Argentinian, even though he made gigantic sacrifices on his payroll. The rumors, however, point out that the process was a bit more complicated. Some sources claim that the club used the strict financial regulations as an excuse to depart their ways with Messi who was becoming more and more powerful within the club and was too involved in the board’s decisions. One way or the other, it is sorrowful to think Messi will leave his boyhood club without even saying a proper goodbye to the fans at Camp Nou because of COVID-19.
So, what’s next? For Barcelona, catastrophe. Letting Messi go solved very little of the Catalan club’s financial problems as they still have one of the largest payrolls in football and unable to get league licenses for their new signings. It would be a miracle to see Barca lifting any trophies soon. Messi, on the other hand, joined Paris Saint Germain to form one of the most lethal sides in the history of football. Joining his former Barca teammate Neymar Jr. and the French superstar Kylian Mbappe, Messi will be competing in Ligue one for at least two more years. The Parisians’ summer transfer window is already being regarded as one of the most successful transfer windows as they signed Gigi Donnarumma, Giorgino Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi and Sergio Ramos alongside Lionel Messi. It is very possible that Messi will be able to lift his career’s fifth Champions League trophy with his talented teammates at Paris Saint Germain.