The situation in Catalonia is not good. It is fairly well known FC Barcelona is in major trouble. They have lacked direction and competent leadership for years. They have wasted money and struggled to make impactful signings. In competitions, they have struggled, not winning anything in the 2019-2020 season, while losing in embarrassing fashion at times.
The club is in need of a major overhaul. There has been too much that has gone wrong over the last few years to fix quickly and many people will need to leave in order to make room for new people to come in, at every level. Unfortunately, Lionel Messi is one of the people that needs to go. The situation is not his fault. He is not to blame for it. The truth is that he is collateral damage.
To Hold On or Move Forward
Messi is the best of Barça. He lead them to many many titles and has done remarkable things for the club. However, he is the symbol of the past, the old way of doing things. He is a connection to the glory days of the past, but the club needs to look to the future to sort out their issues. Barça will not be able to recreate the Guardiola era, they need to create a new era. Messi holds that back, through no fault of his own. His presence keeps Barça anchored to the past, but they need to let the past go. A squad needs to be assembled that can grow together and create their own playing style and identity.
The need to relay on Messi is evident in Barça’s style of play. They are constantly trying to play the ball to Messi instead of playing the better option. It’s also noticeable when Messi is not available. Without Messi present, the team looks completely different, sometimes they manage okay but other times they can not function. They do not know what to do when they can not simply play the ball to Messi. In order for the club to truly move forward, they need to stop relaying so heavily on Messi. He can not do everything, especially as he is getting older. The only way to let go of the ways of the past, is to let go of the past itself, and that is Messi.
It is no secret that Messi comes with a massive wage bill, it is part being one of the best players in the world. It is also no secret that Barcelona is in serious financial trouble. Given the financial state of the club, extending Messi’s contract would be a massive financial hit. While the revenue Messi single handily brings in is large, it is not enough to offset the cost of his wages. With debt rumored to be as high as a billion dollars, the club must cut costs. Not renewing Messi’s contract would help to reduce a large financial burden on the club.
With the Camp Nou crumbling, literally, and the club teetering on bankruptcy, Barça must cut costs. There is no way around it. The club simply can not afford to pay Messi. The excessive debt that has been accumulated and the misuse of funds over the past several years has left the club in this position. No amount of salary reductions and layoffs can make up for having Messi off the books. No matter who ends up as club President, the truth is the money is simply not there.
Time is Running Out
The sad reality is Messi is getting older. He does not have much time left as a professional player. His performances are going to start dropping. There is nothing that can be done about that. It is a part of life. However, at this stage Barça need someone to build a future around. Building a future around a 33, soon to be 34, year old player is just not feasible. In the end Messi staying would only cost Barça time which could be used to build a new project. While his abilities will always add to any team and project, his age will limit his involvement, especially long-term.
It also takes time to build a new project. To get a new project going and being successful can take years. To try to build something now with Messi would take a few years to really take off. By the time the project really gets going, Messi will be getting to be at an age to retire. Then the club would be forced to start over and build another new project. Logistically, it is not smart or feasible. The best thing to do would be to do one rebuild, without Messi. One that can last in excess of five years and bring trophies to the club for years to come.
To Stay or Go
It is way too early to know what Leo Messi will do or where he could end up. He has made it perfectly clear he will not be making a decision any time soon. He probably does not even know what he will do himself. This is a massive decision and he will not decide until he is confident in his decision. Barcelona will always offer a renewal, no matter how bad the situation is, so it will be up to Leo Messi to accept, or to move on.
Any club is lucky to have Leo Messi. Barcelona have had the best of him for many years. Unfortunately, the current state of the club is dire. Leo Messi is a luxury player. He is one of the best in the world and he is rightly expensive. Barcelona simply do not have the money to pay him. The club has to start looking to the future, in the hope of reasserting and stabilizing themselves. Hanging on to Leo Messi is not doing him, or the club, any favors. It is time to move on. As with any break, it is painful, but for the good of everyone, it must be done.