Leo Messi is no longer a FC Barcelona player. At 0.00 hours on July 1, the contract between the Argentine and the Blaugrana entity came to an end without the parties having reached an agreement yet. Although it is not more than something symbolic, well the negotiations are still ongoing, it is still a symptom that it is being much more complicated than it was supposed to reach the meeting point between the two parties.
Messi wants to continue at Barcelona, and Joan Laporta wantsHow could it be otherwise, that Leo continues as Barça player, but there are several aspects that complicate the agreement a lot, with the economic aspect as a fundamental obstacle. La Pulga knows that he will not be able to charge the same as in his previous contract –no less than 555 million euros in total for four years-, given the extremely complicated situation of the Barça treasury. But even so, balancing the salary that Messi demands is still difficult to assume for a club on the verge of bankruptcy and that has recently had to request a loan of 500 million from Goldman Sachs to meet immediate payments (those of the month of June, player payrolls included).
But the problem is not only in the state of Barça’s economy, also in the Economic Control of the League. The pandemic has drastically reduced Barcelona’s income, and this will cause the money that the culé club can allocate to pay its players decrease: 382 million euros could be allocated on the screen last season, for the next season the estimate is that it will be a much lower amount.
A) Yes, Laporta is looking for a way to pay the very high salary of Messi without skipping the rules of LaLiga. The payment in ten years is one of the formulas that FC Barcelona is studying, linking the figure of Leo to the entity for the next decade even if it is not as a player, but it is not at all easy or to convince the footballer (he would play two years as a Barça player , two in the United States and then he would return to Barcelona), nor find a way for LaLiga (through an external body) not to consider that they are breaking its rules.
To reach the agreement, Barça urgently needs to lower the wage bill, out of control with the contracts signed in the previous stage with Josep Maria Bartomeu at the helm. Laporta’s intention is to renegotiate the contracts through several ways: extensions (thus lowering the annual salary), sales (complicated, with such high chips) and even give the letter of freedom to some footballers. But there are many cases of players impossible to place, so Barça already opted in the first case by the most radical route: dismissal. Matheus Fernandes was the first, but we will have to see how the play comes out, as the matter could end in court.
Ten months of tension
Much has changed since that August 25, 2020, when Leo Messi sent a burofax informing Barça of his intention to leave the club immediately. Bartomeu then did not give his arm to twist, he referred to the fact that the Argentine did not communicate it within the agreed period and refused to let him leave. But it was precisely the Barça president that was the big problem, as Messi himself confirmed, first in his interview on Goal.com, then with Jordi Évole.
Despite the fact that La Pulga could already negotiate freely with any team since January 1, 2021, he decided to wait to see what the result of the elections to FC Barcelona was and to know the intentions of the president who was elected. Joan Laporta turned out to be the winner, largely thanks to a campaign in which he appealed to his good friendship with Leo Messi to ensure that it could get its continuity for the following season.
As Laporta promised, the Argentine is listening to him and is doing his part to continue as Barça. His priority is Barça and he is even willing to cut his salary a lot. But even so, Leo’s salary is difficult to assume for the current Barcelona, and the Argentine also eDemand a good sports project to continue. For now, the Blaugrana president has brought him his great friend Kun Agüero and Memphis Depay. But Messi has an obsession, winning the Champions League again, your assessment of the Ronald Koeman project will greatly influence your final decision.
Meanwhile, Messi disputes the Copa América with Argentina, apparently on the sidelines of everything. He will do it now as a totally free player while he has all of Barcelona in suspense and the world pending if he stays at Barça or embarks on a new adventure.
Toni Roca: “LaLiga is going to look very closely at what Barça is going to do”
Does it affect LaLiga’s Economic Control if the signing takes place once the contract has ended? No, what will count for LaLiga is the salary limit, it does not establish it based on when he renews him but on how much he is going to pay. In the end, the amount of the salary is committed for the 21/22 season, it does not matter if you have agreed in January or July.
Is economic control influencing something in Messi’s renewal? Something not, sure. Keeping Messi, Tebas already said, implies that they will have to cut elsewhere. It is a matter of only and exclusively numbers, to see how they will be able to fit the demands of Messi with the economic control of LaLiga.
Can LaLiga skip its own rule for Messi? I understand that not. This is examined by a committee of accounting experts that analyzes all this that are independent experts. On the contrary, LaLiga is going to look very carefully at what Barça is going to do, it knows that it is in a very delicate situation and has to ensure that it does not go beyond the limits. It would be prevarication. I don’t see LaLiga turning a blind eye.
What if Messi is paid in 10 years? Would it count in the Financial Control for the following years? I don’t know in accounting how LaLiga control establishes it, but it’s salary. It is still a waste that a club makes on a player. Because if it would not be very easy to skip the financial control, you start making deferred payments. This cost could not be attributed to the current situation, but to the following ones.
* Toni Roca is the founder of the Himnus law firm and an expert in soccer law