Messi Leaving Barcelona Would Be The Biggest And Most Shocking Transfer In Football History.
If he does leave, which is looking increasingly likely, Messi’s departure would be the biggest transfer ever in football — both in financial value and sheer gravity — and bring down the curtain on possibly the greatest club dynasty in the sport’s history.
It will also make perfect sense, and almost certainly end up being good news for everyone involved.
Since Messi’s debut in 2004, Barcelona has won La Liga 10 times out of a possible 16, won the Champions League four times, and the Spanish domestic cup, the Copa del Rey, six times.
During that time, the club also pioneered a new football style — tiki-taka — which went on to dominate pitches around the world and was employed by the vast majority of successful professional sides for a number of years.
On a personal level, while at Barcelona, Messi has won six Ballons d’Or, more than anyone else in history — and broken pretty much every scoring record. He has scored 634 goals for Barcelona, more than any other player in club football history.
There is no way of looking at Messi’s time at Barcelona as anything other than a total success. However, to put it simply, Messi and Barcelona have come to the end of their road together.
Barcelona needs a total rebuild, and it doesn’t need the distraction of Messi
Messi is still one of, if not, the best player in global football, but he’s also a player on a downward trajectory.
At 33, he still has several years left as a pro, but he’s just come off his worst season in over a decade when it comes to goals scored, and the characteristics that have made him arguably football’s GOAT are in decline.
He has always relied on pace, agility, and incredible technical skill. While the skill is still there, his agility and sheer speed are starting to deteriorate and will keep doing so as a physiological certainty.
The start of Messi’s decline towards retirement coincides with a period in time in which Barcelona itself is probably the worst it has been in terms of overall quality during the time Messi has been at the club.
Since losing Brazilian star Neymar to Paris Saint Germain in 2017, Barcelona has looked less and less elite as a team, culminating in its humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich earlier this month — an event which apparently prompted Messi to decide it is time to move to new pastures.
After gaining a reputation for its transfer policy’s success, in recent seasons, the club has made a series of ill-thought-out, expensive signings that have not yielded success. Last summer’s $140 million signing of France’s Antoine Griezmann and the February of Danish journeyman Martin Braithwaite are just two examples of profligate, hasty transfers in recent years.
The club has also turned away from its famous La Masia academy somewhat, with just four of the starting eleven against Bayern coming through the academy.
Effectively, to reach success — aka winning the Champions League for the first time in six years — the team needs to be completely rebuilt from the ground. Rebuilding a team on the foundation of a 33-year old who pretty clearly doesn’t want to be there makes very little sense.
Not only is Messi too old to build a new team around, but he’s also too much of a distraction.
With him at the club, Barcelona would have to focus its attacking play and system around Messi, and constantly make sure he is happy, as it has done ever since he emerged as the world’s best player.
As has become clear in recent weeks, the effort and energy required to do that are no longer worth it.
Barcelona would be better advised to cut its losses, cash in on Messi (contract dispute permitting), and rebuild the team around younger stars like Ousmane Dembele and Frenkie de Jong.
Messi can cement himself as the greatest of all time with a move
For the player himself, leaving Barcelona makes almost as much sense as it does for the club. Messi has won everything he could possibly win at Barcelona, and quite frankly, he could do with a new challenge — particularly if he wants to cement his place as the greatest football player of all time.
As it stands, there are two realistic options of where Messi could go on leaving Barcelona, both of which have compelling cases to attract him, and ones that go far beyond any rationale for staying in Spain.