‘Thank you for Messi’: Losing Barcelona and La Liga is winning PSG and Ligue 1
Firstly, they would ensure that valuable assets would be harder to remove from the club in the future by sending already ridiculous release clauses into even more absurd areas, starting with Lionel Messi – the most valuable of them all – who was attached. soon after, to a new deal that could only be prompted by an offer of €700m (more than double what it was before, €300m).
Second, and a bit more sensibly, they set about trying to replace Neymar’s rare gifts, and the way they did it was absolutely breathtaking: a total of 370 million euros spent on, first, Ousmane Dembele (2017), then Philippe Coutinho (2018), then Antoine Griezmann (2019).
However, it’s not just in our mind that Barca’s spending spree has exploded. In the end, these charges – and the astronomical salaries that come with them – have in no way helped to blow a crater into the club’s finances, ultimately plunging them into the abyss of debt in which they find themselves. currently.
And here’s the irony, in many ways it’s head-spinning: spending so much money still hasn’t resulted in landing a satisfying – no, not even close – replacement for Neymar; if anything, the compounding effect of that has only made it harder – impossible, in fact, as we’ve now found out – to hang on to Messi; and finally, by the time their Argentine GOAT came out this week, the seemingly insurmountable wall of a release clause meant to keep him tied down at Camp Nou had long since crumbled, a year before.
No prizes for guessing which club now joins Messi: why, the very one who snatched Neymar so audaciously, with Barca powerless to prevent – and inadvertently complicit in facilitating – the reunion of those South American pals whom they had so frantically sought to stay away (at least in a footballing sense) for four years!
Barca, however, aren’t the only ones feeling pretty bad here; La Liga, the domestic league they play in, and which Messi has supported almost single-handedly since 2018, will also feel the pinch, even if its bosses seem almost jaded.
Three years ago, La Liga lost half of its grip on most football fans around the world, when its other true crowd puller, Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, left for Italian side Juventus. ; now he’s lost the other, Messi (along with ex-Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, often the third wheel in many Clasico duels for most of the last decade or so), to Ligue 1 side PSG.
Make no mistake; The French top flight would not suddenly (perhaps ever?) overtake Spain in the eyes of many.
PSG might be the most starred team in the world right now (ever, maybe?), and there would always be the occasional likelihood of a title upset by a Monaco or a Lille, but Ligue 1 is truly a team fiefdom. La Liga, on the other hand, is now fairly open (thanks, in part, to Messi’s departure), and its teams remain formidable in Europe (certainly in the UEFA Europa League, if not more so in the Champions League).
What Ligue 1 would have more of today is attention and money, and at a time when it has never needed it so much. Messi will set France’s stadiums on fire, but he would also help fill quite a few coffers, left somewhat bare by the coronavirus pandemic and the big mess that the league’s TV rights have become.
It wouldn’t matter so much to the other 19 Ligue 1 clubs if the chasm on the pitch between them and PSG is now much wider than ever once Messi-inspired money starts hitting the accounts. . Sacrificed on the altar of Barca’s financial recklessness, and perhaps also as a pawn in the power play with La Liga, the 34-year-old will surely be a welcome presence across the border, embraced not just by the obviously delighted PSG faithful.
At any moment, indeed, Spain could expect a note from its northeast neighbors, laden with the most concise messages: Thanks for Messi.