It has been a season of discontent for both Lionel Messi and Barcelona this season as both have endured on and off the field issues.
Messi is reportedly upset with Barca for not backing him over his tax situation this summer and his camp feel that the reason is picking up so many injuries is because he has been overused in recent years..
Now a report by well-informed Catalan sports channel Esport3 says that Messi believes that Barcelona now him see him as a saleable asset and not their untouchable star player.
Adding to the tension is that the two groups are in stalled contract talks. Messi wants to be the highest paid player in the world at £20.5m a year net after taxes. In return for that, Barca are said to want half of his lucrative image rights, which currently all belong Messi. That is a big sticking point.
The suggestion by Esport3 is that certain members of the club’s board believe the player is now worth more to them in the transfer market than on the pitch, that Messi is aware of this, and that he believes it is behind Barcelona’s reluctance to improve his current contract which runs out in 2018.
The board members may be right. A report last year made the claim that Messi was worth over €400m.
“Messi is five times more marketable than Cristiano Ronaldo. According to studies, Ronaldo is worth between €150 and €160 million. Messi’s buy-out clause is €250 million, we believe that figure is obsolete and devalued. Right now there is no player in the world of sport that has a greater value than Leo Messi. According to market research in the last five years, Messi is worth €400 million.”
For the first time since bursting onto the scene in Barcelona Messi is facing criticism after basically disappearing in the Champions League quarter-finals and the Spanish Cup final. Those performances have made the board think for the first time that they could at least raise the possibility of entertaining offers with the club’s supporters.
Paris Saint-Germain president Sheikh Nasser Al-Khelaifi has repeatedly said that he would be willing to meet Messi’s €250 million buy-out clause. With Barcelona needing an overhaul of their first team squad, there are now more than a couple of people within the club who believe this could be the time to do the unthinkable and cash on a player who has been at Barcelona since he was 13.
The fact that Messi and Barcelona are not getting along is not news. What is that for the first time, people within the Camp Nou are publicly voicing the previously unthinkable that selling Lionel Messi is something that the club should contemplate.
It is a long way from contemplating to selling, but if PSG met Messi’s buy-out clause I wonder what the four time World Player of the Year would do? Will be reject it out of hand as he has done before, or would he seriously consider it?