LIONEL MESSI LEAVES BARCELONA OVER FINANCIAL STRUGGLES - Jesnaija LIONEL MESSI LEAVES BARCELONA OVER FINANCIAL STRUGGLES - Jesnaija

LIONEL MESSI LEAVES BARCELONA OVER FINANCIAL STRUGGLES

The impossible has happened. FC Barcelona officially announced this afternoon that Lionel Messi would not be returning to the club.

After a summer of negotiations that were seemingly going well, they’ve reached a point wherein the financial situation La Liga and Barcelona are in means we won’t be seeing a deal finalized. This is wild news.

HERE’S THE OFFICIAL STATEMENT:

Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations).

As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.

Messi has spent his entire career at Barcelona, coming through the club’s academy before going on to score 672 goals in 778 appearances after making his senior debut in 2003.

A club statement said: “Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations).

“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.

“FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.”

BARCELONA STRUGGLES

Barcelona have been struggling to reduce their wage bill in line with La Liga’s financial fair play rules for this coming season, and have been in talks with vice-captains Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto about reducing their salaries by 40 per cent in return for contract extensions.

They have also been trying to sell several high earners including Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti and Martin Braithwaite but – again – have not yet found solutions for any of them.

Wage caps in La Liga are calculated prospectively based on a club’s financial health and they must adhere to their cap in order to avoid future financial penalties. The cost of the Covid-19 pandemic had severely reduced Barca’s budget for the 2021-22 campaign.

It was thought a €2.7bn investment in La Liga from private equity firm CVC would help Barcelona overcome their difficulties, but the injection has not proven enough to enable the club to hold onto Messi.

Barca’s opening La Liga game against Real Sociedad is in 12 days’ time, with Ronald Koeman remaining in charge at the Nou Camp following a disappointing first campaign with the club.

CONTRACT

Barcelona have been unable register Messi because his new contract would break the club’s proposed wage structure for the 2021/22 season – despite his 50 per cent wage cut.

Wage caps in La Liga are calculated prospectively based on a club’s financial health and they must adhere to the cap in order to avoid financial penalties.

The cost of the Covid-19 pandemic has severely reduced Barca’s budget for the new campaign and, after further talks with the league and Messi on Thursday, the numbers – simply – do not add up.

A new investment in La Liga from CVC Capital Partners was announced on Wednesday and brought hope of a £230m windfall that would help Messi’s new five-year deal be financially viable.

However, sources in Spain have told Sky Sports News that Barcelona are – at the moment – opposing the CVC investment because they do not want to give up future revenue to the company, along with Real Madrid.

The deal was unanimously approved by La Liga’s executive board but the clubs are yet to vote on it and that is due to take place on August 12. However, clubs in La Liga and Segunda do not need Real and Barca’s approval for the deal to be voted in.

FINANCIAL PROBLEM

“The problems at Barcelona run very deep financially,” Hamilton said. “The contract was proving very difficult to negotiate. There are additional problems with the Spanish league in terms of their budget for next season. They have to stay within a very strict wage budget.”

La Liga introduced financial control measures in 2013, establishing a maximum amount of money each club can spend on its playing squad and coaching staff each season, conditioned by their income.

Barca has the highest revenues in world football, according to this year’s Deloitte Money League, although income dropped by 125 million euros ($148m) last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spanish media reported Barcelona had been in talks with their top-earning players, including Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Sergi Roberto, about reducing their salaries by 40 percent in return for contract extensions.

MESSI’S BARCELONA TROPHIES

Champions League – 4

La Liga titles – 10

Spanish Cups – 7

European Super Cups – 3

Spanish Super Cups – 8

Club World Cups – 3

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