Lionel Messi IS/WAS Barcelona F.C. There is nothing in the most beautiful game in the world that truly epitomises the relationship between Messi and Barca. Think about it, when you bring up the name Messi, a facade of Barcelona’s red, blue, and yellow number 10 jersey comes to mind immediately.
That’s what makes his recent (and tearful) exit from the club all the more shocking.
The thought of Messi donning another club’s colours next season is (or was) an unthinkable thought, until recently. We’ll now have to get used to this reality as the megastar forward and the club has confirmed that he would not be signing a new deal as was previously assumed. Of course, there are plenty of factors that have played a part in Messi’s departure from Camp Nou — with his hopeless former employers being a prime contributor. Here is a timeline of the events that triggered the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s exit from arguably one of the biggest clubs in the world.
12 July 2019: Barcelona Signs Antoine Griezmann
Sounds like a pretty innocuous transfer deal, right? You’d be correct except the Frenchman’s arrival at the club was the signal of the beginning of Messi’s inevitable exit from Barcelona. To be fair, Griezmann isn’t directly to be blamed as compared to, say, other transfers from the time he put pen to paper to today. But, we’re highlighting the fact that he was one of the many players that commanded a ludicrously hefty wage (which was sanctioned by the club) which have led them to be close to financial ruin now.
14 August 2020: Barcelona is Humiliated And Trashed By Bayern Munich
In football, winning and losing is all part of the game. After all, the ball is round. However, getting utterly humiliated is a whole other ball game altogether.
The first cracks started to appear in the Messi-Barcelona relationship when Barca was beaten by Bayern Munich in an 8-2 trouncing in the quarter-final match of the Champions League. Messi had always been adamant that he wanted to be playing for a club that could be crowned the kings of Europe. And Barcelona’s utter defeat to the Champion League 2019/20 season’s eventual winners did little to reassure the star player.
At the same time, speculation on the future of Luis Suarez also didn’t help the Argentine’s relationship with the club. A little more than a week later, the first instances of the unthinkable happened.
25 August 2020: Messi Tells Barcelona he Wants Out
This was shocking news that many thought would never come.
Messi sent shockwaves among not only the Camp Nou loyalists and players but also the entire football world at large as he informed Barcelona of his intent to leave the club. Big clubs immediately jumped at the chance to sign arguably the best player in the world today, with Paris Saint-Germain being one of the favourites alongside Manchester City.
30 August 2020: Skips Covid-19 Test
There was speculation over where Messi would be heading next or whether he would ultimately stay at the club after his initial announcement of his intent to leave. But the latter option was quickly shot down as Messi refused to turn up for a scheduled Covid-19 test just five days after news of his desire to leave broke.
The Barcelona captain was subsequently unable to attend Barca’s pre-season training due to regulations. And the La Liga were certainly not happy with Messi’s antics. The club then issued a statement, retracting and invalidating a clause in Messi’s contract which would have allowed him to otherwise leave for free.
4 September 2020: Forced To Stay At The Nou Camp
With the free transfer clause off the cards, any clubs that were intending to sign Messi away from Barcelona F.C. would now need to pay a hefty £600m release clause in his deal.The forward then conceded that it would be impossible at present to be able to move from the club. As such, he resigned to spend another season at Barcelona.
7 March 2021: A New Club President, Joan Laporta is Announced
When Joan Laporta made his pitch to be club president once again, he made sure to specifically promise to ensure that Messi remained at Camp Nou.Things were seemingly going well at first as he was providing regular updates on contract talks. He even recently suggested that a new deal could be penned soon, which, as we know has fallen through.
1 July 2021: Free Agent
It’s a wonder how nobody really paid attention to the news that one of the greatest players of all time had become a free agent.
Messi’s contract with Barcelona finally expired on the 1st of July, 2021 while away on international duty at the Copa America with Argentina. Though, as previously mentioned, club president Laporta was always insistent that the matter was being discussed positively and he was adamant that Messi would stay. This could be one of the reasons why there was no sudden stampede of clubs trying to sign the 34-year-old immediately.
4 August 2021: Cristian Romero is Said To Be Close To Signing With Tottenham
This was one of another slew of reasons that ultimately pushed Messi away from signing a new deal with Barca. It was speculated that Messi was concerned about the club’s inability to add to their defensive options. And with Messi’s countryman’s move to Tottenham, his storybook career in Barcelona came one page closer to its end.
5 August 2021 @ 17:30: The Spanish Media Reports A Breakdown In Talks
Less than a year after Messi’s announcement of his intention to leave Barcelona, reports started flowing out of Spain which suggested that the contract talks described by Laporta as being positive had in fact hit a wall.
Usually, when news like this breaks, there is always a lull for a few days before we find out whether or not the reports were true. In this case, we would find out mere hours later.
5 August 2021 @ 19:00: Messi’s Exit Has Been Confirmed
Lionel Messi has left Barcelona F.C. This was a sentence that many could not believe could be uttered in this timeline. And even reading it now, it doesn’t truly seem believable.
Typically, when a player has a falling out with a club, said club would desperately try to cover up what went wrong, but in the case of the Spanish football behemoth, they just admitted that they were in financial ruin. And thus, Messi would be leaving for pastures new (that we now know as Paris Saint-Germain).