The confirmation that Lionel Messi will end his legendary Barcelona career means very, very bad news for the European football landscape.
The bomb announcement that rocked football to the core, of course, came only recently.
That came in the form of the reveal that Lionel Messi would be forced to end his stint at Barcelona after 21 years at the club.
Just hours after widely reported an agreement between the two parties was near, the Blaugrana released a statement confirming that they had essentially no choice but to part with the club’s greatest player.
The Catalans, in turn, have essentially blamed La Liga for the “financial and structural obstacles” put in their way by those in power in Spain:
“Despite the agreement between FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot be done due to financial and structural obstacles (Spanish league regulations).”
“As a result of this situation, Messi will not stay at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club are ultimately not fulfilled.”
LATEST NEWS | Lion #Messi will not continue with FC Barcelona
– FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 5, 2021
English super league?
Aside from the monumental blow inflicted on Barcelona themselves, what does the news that Messi carry on for the rest of European football?
Today’s situation in and of itself embodies almost perfectly the situation that has been developing on the continent for a long time.
This comes in the form of the constant threat that the Premier League will simply drop out as the only dominant top five league.
There have long been claims, generally by those who only watch English football, that the Premier League is “the only one to watch” and “by far the best” on the continent.
The latter suggestion wasn’t exactly difficult to refute, though in fact it has always been Spanish clubs that have triumphed in both the Champions League and the Europa League.
However, the tide has been changing for several years. As the Premier League continues to grow in power and attraction, football in Spain, Italy and France has been paralyzed by increasing debt and financial constraints.
The Covid-19 pandemic only helped to make things worse as the economic divide between Manchester City – which is expected to spend over £ 200million in the coming weeks – and Real Madrid – is limited to David’s free agent addition Alaba this summer, now brighter than ever.
Of course, players like Barca and Real cannot simply be excused all guilt. The former in particular have been one of the worst-run clubs in world football for some time.
But what about those teams in France who have long competed by the rules of the game, but faced the legitimate risk of bankruptcy after the collapse of a single TV rights deal late last year?
The list goes on …
Inter Milan, champions of Italy, have already been forced to sell Achraf Hakimi this summer to balance the club’s books with Moroccans out the San Siro exit door.
While Aston Villa is now spending big bucks on Emi Buendia, Leon Bailey and more just two years after returning to the top division of English football, Juventus, who have been Scudetto titles for 9 of their last 10 seasons, continues to haggle in with Sassuolo try to lure Manuel Locatelli to Turin at a reduced price.
Such financial hardships naturally make it difficult not to think back to the debacle of the European Super League, which a few months ago turned European football as we know it so close on its head.
However, on closer inspection, is it really that surprising that Real, Barca and Juve continue to push for such a project to come true? Or ‘by chance’ that the English clubs involved were the first to withdraw?
Lionel Messi’s departure from Camp Nou and the financial reasons behind it have only shed light on the concerns that have existed at clubs across the continent for a number of years.
The gap between the Premier League and “the rest” is growing and doesn’t seem to be slowing anytime soon.
HE IS HERE!
We are happy to announce the signing of @JackGrealish with a six-year contract.
Welcome to town, Jack! 💙
– Manchester City (@ManCity) August 5, 2021
Of course there are exceptions to the rule – Paris Saint-Germain, backed with big bucks, is the most obvious, while Bayern Munich should be lauded as the best run club in world football amid the turmoil in Spain and Italy.
But such examples only serve to illustrate the lack of competitiveness between those who have money and those without money, even at the national level.
If European football continues its current path, it could well result in a Super League. But not as it was planned beforehand.
Instead, the Premier League will simply take its place as the sole dominant force on the continent.
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