The reports of Messi's departure are gaining steam, and Messi looks closer to an exit than ever. Can his departure be a blessing in disguise? Lets find out!
Aug. 31, 2020, 8:14 a.m.
On 25th August 2020, a bomb was dropped by Lionel Messi on the footballing world. A servant of the club since he was just 14, Lionel Messi has never been closer to leaving the club he loves so much. Over the years, gross mismanagement at the very top level has led to the disaster Barcelona is facing at the moment, and if not for the magic Messi conjures on the pitch, the club would’ve been run to the ground by now
After a disastrous season and the coronavirus pandemic exposing Barca’s frailties, Messi’s departure is closer than ever, with his lawyers having already faxed the club his official desire to leave. However, this move can indeed prove to be beneficial for the club, given there are changes at the top level of management.
First of all, Lionel Messi has exorbitant wages at Barcelona, earning a whopping 1.2 million a week. Although one could argue that he deserves high wages, the fact that his wages are through the roof doesn’t change. If Messi leaves, it would free up 1.2 million from the wage bill. To put it into perspective, Liverpool’s Backline (Allison Becker, Trent Alexander Arnold, Joe Gomex, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson) is at a combined 460K a week while Bayern’s Champions League winning team’s forwards (Kingsley Koman, Serge Gnabry, Robert Lewandowski) are at 490K. Combined, those are 8 players with a combined wage of 950K, still 250K less than Messi. This huge bill off the books can relieve the club of a lot of financial stress and this money can be utilised elsewhere to strengthen in their weaker areas.
Messi’s departure can make room for new signings as well as let the existing ones like Phillippe Coutinho, Antoine Griezzmann, Frenkie De Jong and youngsters like Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati can play more freely and take up more responsibility, enabling Barcelona to lay a strong foundation for the future. It is no secret that recent signings in attack have struggled due to Messi and although the Little Argentine has spared them blushes, they have indeed struggled due to all tactics being centred around him. With Suarez also being close to leaving, Griezzmann can play in his preferred #9 role, with Coutinho in a more creative role rather than both being wasted on the wings.
Messi’s next destination is most likely to be Manchester City, so Barcelona can ask for players like Mahrez or Bernardo Silva to solve their winger problems, especially with Dembele mostly out injured. Or they could ask for Eric Garcia, who is also a former La Masia product. This young talented centreback could solve their defensive woes for years to come, especially with Gerard Pique showing signs of being past his best. Also, with Kalidou Koulibally available and the likes of Thiago Alacantara confirming his departure, Barcelona could go in for such talents if they want to get back to their glory days.
A huge upside of this entire saga is the fact that Barcelona is now forced into the rebuild process, which would’ve otherwise started 3-4 years later when Messi retired. The current situation means they have to start right now, which is good considering they wouldn’t have been strong contenders for the titles next season. This process starts with newly appointed head coach Ronald Koeman. Koeman is a former Barcelona player and therefore understands the values of the club, which he can instil in the youngsters. He is also known to be a ruthless, no-nonsense manager. He reportedly even told Messi that he won’t have some of his ‘privileges’ from now on. Barcelona could turn to club legend Xavi as a possible addition to Koeman’s team. With his love for the club as well as technical ability, Barcelona can really stand to benefit. A complete overhaul is a must and with Eric Abidal having already resigned, the departure of Josep Bartomeu is crucial for Barcelona’s future. Another thing Barcelona can look at is integrating experienced people like Gerard Pique into the management once he retires. He can even be offered Eric Abidal’s job- a gamble that can very likely pay off.
Seeing Lionel Messi in any other Jersey will be strange, but as the footballing fandom, if not the entire world, waits for this Messi-Barca saga to come to fruition, Barcelona must prepare for the worst. This may be a blessing in disguise, as this may serve as a reminder that it is ‘FC Barcelona’, not ‘Messi FC.’ Although only time will tell, this move might prove to be a win-win for both sides. The Little Genius’ legacy will remain intact in a Manchester City side consisting of Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, and he’d be excited about a reunion with his former coach Pep Guardiola. We must enjoy his final years no matter where it is. For all we know, we might never see a player like him ever again.