By Mike Long (aka BoltFromTheBlue)
Will Manchester City now finally land the G.O.A.T. after making enquiries in 2013 and narrowly missing out in 2016?
Let’s assess the possibility:
Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona of his intention to leave by way of Burofax:
A burofax is a service provided by Spain’s Postal Service … for sending documents … widely used where the sender needs to be able to legally prove that the recipient received the document on a given date and what the contents were. A court of law will accept the sender’s receipt of delivery as proof the document … was delivered.
A simple email (or even a tweet) would have sufficed if you think Messi is simply embarking on a power play to oust President Bartomeu, but this communique was clearly intended for legal admissibility.
Why does Messi want to leave?
Take your pick:
- The gradual selling off of key players without suitable replacements.
- The 8-2.
- The treatment of good pal Suarez (dumped in a 2 minute telephone call).
- The general ineptitude of the president and directors since 2015.
- The clock ticking on his ability to challenge for major honours…
Why does Messi think he can leave?
Messi negotiated a clause in his last contract that allowed him to unilaterally terminate his agreement with Barcelona in the event that he desired to quit.
Things happen. Now he desires to quit.
However the expiry date for the invocation of this clause was set at June 10 each season. This date was deemed (pre-Covid 19) to constitute the effective end of the Spanish League season. That date has of course passed this year. However the global pandemic extended the season by several weeks and Messi and his advisors feel that this particular date can no longer be considered binding in the circs.
They are confident they have until the end of this month. (Hence the recent burofax.)
Barcelona obviously do not concur and insist the expiry date is binding and that Messi can only leave if a club pays the contract buyout fee.
The Contract Buyout Fee
Messi has a €700m buyout clause in his contract.
€700m (Seven hundred million)
Let’s speak plainly. No club can pay that.
- Not in the midst of a cash-sapping pandemic.
- Not with FFP in the background.
- Not even if either/both of these factors were absent.
- And no, not even by PSG or City under any circumstances.
Will Messi and Barcelona ‘lawyer up’ & go to CAS?
They could but they will not. It is simply in no-one’s interests to do so. The Catalan club are extremely unlikely to force an unhappy player of Messi’s stature to sulk visibly for the remainder of his current deal (the end of next season) if they insist on their interpretation of the disputed clause.
Barcelona (Més que un Club) have their image/reputation/sponsors to consider and must also be mindful of the two decades of stunning service that Messi has given them. To dig their heels in and insist that he grinds out the last year of his contract under Ronald Koeman would be PR suicide. As would legal action against the player.
Will Barcelona let Messi go for free, then?
They will move heaven and earth to avoid that given their dire financial need. The best solution is to propose a reasonable amount that a buyer should pay and emerge with some dignity and some disposable cash. Most sources believe that an amount of between €150m and €200m would do the trick.
Put simply, if Barcelona are to rebuild, they need Messi’s wages off the books. Koeman has reportedly already jettisoned Suarez, Alba, Rakitic and Vidal. Umtiti looks set to move on too. Koeman is also reported to have told Messi that the little genius will no longer command any special privileges.
What about the Afore-mentioned Power Play?
Guillem Balague on his YouTube channel, along with many others close to the situation dismiss this.
The view that Messi is somehow playing 4D chess with the directors is mostly put forward by the same journalists and pundits who assured us that Khaldoon & Soriano would lose at CAS.
There is very little desire by The WhatsApp group to see City land the world’s greatest player. The nub of the argument you will hear from most of the talking heads in the mainstream media is that they “just can’t imagine” Messi not playing for Barcelona next season or that his wages are untenable (despite the fact that commercial revenue would offset a fair chunk).
Sophisticated and well-researched argumentation as always…
Take your pick:
- Style of Play.
- City’s financial might.
- The fact that City have undertaken at least one dress rehearsal for this deal.
- The reported close contact between coach and target.
- The realistic chance of silverware.
- The worldwide heft of the global City Football Group.
- It is mutually beneficial and desirable.
- PSG – Largely because of the friendship with Neymar.
- Internazionale – Largely due to the possibility of an Italian showdown with Ronaldo. (And the fact that Messi’s father is said to have acquired property in Italy.)
- Liverpool, United, Chelsea, Bayern, Real Madrid? – Only mentioned due to their status in the game. No serious links/real interest provided. Clutching at straws here.
- United States/Middle East? – Too early for a swansong, surely?
How would City Finance this deal?
For a detailed analysis of this, simply go to the City Fan TV YouTube Channel in which BFTB’s own star duo Ray and Prestwich Blue Colin Savage discuss this. Link here.
How Would Messi be accommodated in Guardiola’s Team?
Given his age and how he has been deployed over the last few seasons, he would likely be part of the front three, together with Sterling and Aguero.
Would Certain City Players now be Surplus to Requirements?
Possibly, but not necessarily. However Mahrez’ place is already under threat from the newly arrived Ferran Torres and Bernardo Silva has often been mentioned as a potential makeweight in any Messi deal by several outlets.
How Could City Line Up Next Season?
Comments and RTs appreciated on Twitter @boltfromtheblu