Messi Barcelona
The Messi-Barcelona saga should come to an end. It sounds absurd, but the €70 million salary isn’t worth the expense of the club’s future. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

The Messi-Barcelona Saga Should End

The Messi-Barcelona saga needs to come to an end. You have now read that three times since opening this post, and I meant every word. I know that sounds absurd, and I know that Messi is the greatest footballer of my generation and potentially ever, but the club is in debt, the Argentine is reportedly unhappy, and negotiations are chaotic.

Let’s first get one thing straight, Messi is Barcelona and Barcelona is Messi. The two are synonymous, and for a decade and a half, they have enjoyed quite a fruitful relationship. You can’t have one without the other, and it’s hard to imagine Messi not wearing the signature blue and red stripes for the Catalan club. The left-footed wonder joined the club at the age of 13, signing the first of several contracts with the club on a napkin. The rest has been history. It’s been filled with goals, Champions League victories, and numerous La Liga and Spanish titles. Watching a player who almost only uses his left foot captivate the world for 15+ years has been nothing short of amazing.

But as we enter the third decade of this millennia, it’s time to evaluate how the 33-year-old Argentine can impact the club for the next five or so years and how the €1.3 million a week salary isn’t worth it anymore.

Letting Messi Walk Allows for Growth in Other Areas

Messi is no longer in his prime, and Barcelona has to face that realization. This isn’t to say that he isn’t still ridiculously talented, putting up numbers that few come near to, but this isn’t the 2011-12 season. He isn’t scoring 91 goals in a season, and that may be a drastic comparison, but 91 goals a season is worth his current weekly salary.

Messi had 38 goals and 14 assists in all competitions this season for the club. Conveniently, that’s 52 G/A contributions, so one per week in a calendar year. That means that the Argentine was paid €1.3 million per scoring contribution. Absolute madness.

He’s still Messi, and we can’t deny that. He will still pull off ridiculous 50-yard lone runs that end in an inside cut with his left foot before slotting it by a paralyzed goalkeeper that has the world going mad. He still had 0.90 G/A contributions per game this season – that’s ridiculous. Add that into any side, and they instantly contend for whatever league they compete for. Manchester City would handle the Premier League, Paris Saint-Germain would reclaim Ligue 1, and I don’t even want to think about what he could do in the MLS – but that’s probably a pipe dream.

Messi is no longer in his prime, but he does provide any squad that adds him a talent that needs no introduction. Barcelona can still capitalize on the absence of his salary while he’s healthy and still producing otherworldly stats. It may be painful, and the club will be ridiculed, but the move needs to be made.

Even With a Reduced Contract, Messi Staying Doesn’t Make Sense

I’ve already said it, but Messi is 33 years old. In May, there was speculation that the Argentine would agree to a €40 million deal if the Spanish giants could show “ambition” in the transfer market, according to talkSPORT. He is at an age where his body is deteriorating. He won’t be playing every game for the club, and even with a €30 million decrease in salary, that’s an additional €40 million that won’t be spent on players that could enable a bright future for the club.

Every transfer that arrives at Barcelona is brought in because of how they pair with Messi. It makes sense. He’s your club’s best player, and bringing in talent to complement him is a smart move. But at his age, it’s no longer worth it. The club needs to come first at some point, and the batch of youngsters, including Ansu Fati, Pedri, and Riqui Puig, is a group that any club would kill for.

In the same way that Barcelona in 2008 sold Ronaldinho to make room for the talented youth in the squad, including a 21-year-old Messi, the Argentine should be on the move so that the new era of Barcelona football can commence.

I recognize the importance of Messi to the club. He is the idol for millions of people across the globe, and when he is over a ball, the whole world waits with bated breath to see what he’ll do with it. Those touches in Barcelona, though, should come to an end. Give the Argentine the freedom to move where he wants, and take the money that the club would’ve paid him and spend it on the future at Camp Nou. He will always be Barcelona’s #10, but the saga has come to a fitting end.

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