Lionel Messi: A boon or bane for Barça?
On August 8, 2021, during a press conference at Camp Nou, when a tearful Lionel Messi revealed that he never wanted to leave his boyhood club, FC Barcelona (Barça), fans thought the club alone was responsible for his departure. Many of them criticized it, saying it was unfair with the legend, but nobody tried to find out what the truth was.
If you too got swayed by the Argentinian footballer’s conference, here’s what you should know first.
Did Messi improve Barça’s condition or made it worse?
In 1997, when Messi was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency, his father, Jorge Messi, was tensed about paying for his treatment. He tried contacting many football clubs for help in exchange for his son’s talent, but none of them were ready for such a big investment. Three years later, when Jorge took Lionel for Barça’s trial training session, the club’s then technical director, Charly Rexach, was enchanted by his performance.
Charly wanted to sign Messi and was ready to fund his treatment. He even agreed to import all his family members to Barcelona and pay them a wage of €120,000 a year. Since then, Messi has been playing for the club, and of course, he’s taken it to great heights. He has won three European Champions Leagues, ten Spanish titles, six Golden Balls, and scored a total of 672 goals for Barça. In return, the club has also given a lot of importance to his decisions.
According to Simon Kuper’s book The Barcelona Complex: Lionel Messi and the Making, the management always contacted Messi before appointing any coach or signing any new player. Sandro Rosell, Barça’s president from 2010 to 2014, was quoted in the book saying that Messi was very particular about what he wanted. There was a time when his expression and body language were enough for everyone to understand whether he was in agreement or disagreement with a suggestion.
On top of that, his father’s demands for wages were endless. Despite Messi being paid more than €555 million ($674 million) in 2017, Jorge wanted more money for his son. Though it’s doubtful whether or not the player knew about his father’s demands, he bled the club dry. Plus, the pandemic and Spanish League’s strict rules only increased the problems for Barça.
Since the club was solely dependent on tourism when stadiums emptied, there was no source of income for them. As for La Liga’s rules, until Barça lessened its spending, they wouldn’t be allowed to participate in future tournaments. If the club reduced Messi’s salary, or in the rare case, didn’t pay him at all, then too it wouldn’t be able to reach that mark. It was basically a dead-end for the club, and probably that’s why it had to let go of its star player.
Going through the article, you must have understood that it wasn’t the club’s fault all along. Messi also had a part to play in it, and so had the circumstances. If things were better, Leo would have never moved to Paris St Germain, the team with which he’s playing now.
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