Lionel Messi has already chosen his future. Even with a heavy financial proposal from Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City’s interest in taking him to the powerful English Premier League, the Argentine star decided to renew with Barcelona and remain at the only club he defended as a professional.
The Catalan board has already been informed of the 10 shirt’s decision. Journalists and fans who live the team’s daily life also know that they will continue to see at Camp Nou the football of the six-times voted best player in the world.
But, if everything is resolved, why, even with only three weeks to the start of the Spanish Championship, Barça has not officially announced Messi’s new contract and has reinstated his star in the squad?
The answer, in a very short and blunt way, is that the club simply doesn’t have the money to register the bond.
According to the rules of the Financial Fair Play of La Liga, the organization that organizes professional football in Spain, each club has a spending ceiling for the season that is proportional to the size of its revenue.
The problem is that, due to the debts accumulated in recent years and the economic crisis caused by the covid-19 pandemic, this investment limit for Barcelona has fallen from 600 million euros (BRL 3.7 billion) to 347 million euros (£2.1 billion) this season.
With this radical change, there is no room on the culé expense sheet for Messi’s salary or for those of the team’s new hires, Brazilian Emerson Royal, Spaniard Eric García, Argentine Sergio Agüero and Dutchman Memphis Depay.
According to ESPN, the Barça captain even agreed to cut his salaries by half to stay in Catalonia. But not even this discount, which would lower his salary to something around 36 million euros (R$220.3 million) a year, not counting bonuses, is enough to resolve the impasse.
In the short term, the only possible way out for the Blaugranas is to get rid of players who earn a lot and have not delivered such a high performance. Therefore, the club has been trying desperately for names like Philippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembélé, Miralem Pjanic and Samuel Umtiti.
Reducing the payroll was also the reason why Barça chose to terminate the contract of defensive midfielder Matheus Fernandes, who almost never played, and not lend him to another team to gain experience and perhaps have to continue bearing part of its cost . The Brazilian has already signed with Palmeiras.
The Catalan club has until August 31 to get the bills in order and thus register Messi and his other reinforcements for the first half of the season. If you can’t, you can’t try again until the transfer window opens again in January.
Even with the absence of their main player, Barcelona has been playing pre-season friendlies since last Wednesday, when they thrashed Gimnàstic 4-0. In total, Ronald Koeman’s team will play five preparatory games aimed at competitions of 2021/22.
The culé debut in the Spanish Championship will be against Real Sociedad, at home, on August 15th. The Catalan team won only the Copa del Rey last season and finished third in the national league, three points behind champions Atlético de Madrid.