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Barcelona's Financial Crisis Could Force Lionel Messi to Leave

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David Ramos / Staff

Lionel Messi is on the brink of competing in a Copa America final, but the headlines surrounding the Argentina superstar aren’t all about his national team’s current success.

Barcelona have been in a position to re-sign Messi over the summer after a turbulent year that nearly saw the attacker leave the club ahead of the 2020/21 La Liga season.

With moves for Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and others reportedly in the mix to join Barcelona, things were beginning to look up for the club in its efforts to keep Messi at the Camp Nou next season.

However, there’s been delays in announcing players due to financial restrictions placed on Barcelona recently due to the club’s massive wage bill being paid out.

Much like Financial Fair Play rules created by UEFA to create a semblance of competitive balance throughout Europe, La Liga has a similar set of financial guidelines to maintain Spain’s spending on salaries for each club.

Reports suggest that Barca needs to cut roughly $200 million from its salary cap in order to register Aguero and other new players, but more importantly, they cannot sign Messi until they do so.

After a tremendous season for the Blaugrana and the integration of many young players into the squad like Pedri, Sergino Dest and Ilaix Moriba, Messi’s attitude towards staying at Barcelona began to change for the better. 

They also played nearly a full season without star winger Ansu Fati, who has been dubbed one of the next great players in Spanish football.

The answer for Barcelona’s current spending issues should be simple. Sell unwanted players, especially those that have been on the trade block for some time. 

However, with the public knowledge that the club is in such dire straits at the moment, opposing clubs aren’t lining up to sign the Blaugrana’s dead weight. Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann are among the biggest salaries carried by the club, but the idea of cutting them loose won’t be easy after Barca went through a similar situation last year with several of its high-profile players.

Barca was forced to allow Luis Suarez, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and others for essentially nothing in return, and although the club had to recognize it was time to proceed forward with various youth talents in its squad the financial ramifications are visible now more than ever.

Barcelona’s main rivals, Real Madrid, are preparing its future, which could be with a young superstar like Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe, and that’s a scary proposition for the Blaugrana. 

Meanwhile, with teams like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain having shown the capabilities of spending at will, if Barcelona can’t satisfy Messi’s contract soon there’s a very real chance he will actually depart the Camp Nou this summer. 

PSG reportedly has sent in a two-year offer to the Argentina star after bringing in notable defenders Sergio Ramos and Achraf Hakimi this summer. With Mbappe’s contract expiring at the club next summer, Messi could be a potential target for the Parisians.

The French side has quickly become one of the global powers in recognition since bringing in players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Neymar and most recently Mbappe.

For that reason, Paris could be an attractive destination for Messi, who could reunite with Neymar, as well as fellow Argentina internationals Angel di Maria and Leandro Paredes.

If Messi has in fact played his final game at Barcelona there’s no question he’s the greatest player to ever suit up for the Blaugrana and his next club will benefit greatly from his presence.

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