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VIEW FROM SPAIN: Many do not believe it is over for Messi and Barcelona

Published on: 05 August 2021

To believe it or not to believe it? That’s the question. Did Barcelona really end Lionel Messi’s 18 years at the club with a four paragraph statement? Does Messi really bow out after a season played in an empty stadium?

Messi was leaving last year as well remember? Barcelona’s statement issued at 18.45 provoked a flood of ‘gracias Leo’ messages from Barcelona commentators but there is still a part of the club’s followers that will not believe this is over at least until the hear Joan Laporta speak in a press conference on Friday morning at 10am.

Barcelona’s statement was intriguing. It said that there was full agreement between the parties and that Messi wanted to stay. It blamed LaLiga.

Just 24 hours earlier La Liga had announced a new deal with American investors that would mean a cash injection of €2.7billion (£2.29bn)into Spanish football in exchange for 10 per cent of the money the league makes from TV rights over the next 40 years.

Barcelona and Madrid were expected to welcome the news. They did not. Madrid issued a statement on Thursday afternoon saying the deal was brokered without them and was illegal. As they see it they give up their TV rights for LaLiga to negotiate with for three-year periods. This deal sees them lose 10 per cent of television revenue for the next 40 years.

Barcelona don’t like the deal for the same reason. They also don’t like the fact that LaLiga blocked the Super League scheme that also brought in money from a US investment fund.

And they don’t like the fact that even with the new cash injection LaLiga are still calling the shots saying that 70 percent of the money that the clubs will get must be spent on infrastructure, 15 per cent on debt restructuring and only 15 per cent on players.

So is this Barcelona and Madrid taking on LaLiga? Is this poker from Laporta. ‘See how your new American investment friends like that – no Lionel Messi’.

Laporta will answer many of the doubts when he appears at the Camp Nou on Friday to speak. There is no indication that Messi – who had agreed to a 50 per cent pay cut in his new deal – will join Laporta.

In the meantime Barcelona fans are left to contemplate the prospect of Antoine Griezmann, Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay in attack next season. Maybe Memphis would like the number 10 shirt.

Aguero, according to one radio expert on Wednesday night has already brought his new Ferrari since moving to Barcelona. He was signed to help keep Messi. Now what?

Those two words will sum up the headlines in Friday’s Catalan papers. The club say the greatest is gone and is not coming back: Now what?


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