The reasons behind Barcelona’s failure to extend the contract of Lionel Messi have finally come to light after a report revealed the incredible nine demands he asked of the LaLiga giants during negotiations.
Messi is regarded as one of, if not the, greatest players of all time. During his time at Barca, he won an astonishing 10 Primeira Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey and the Champions League four times. He also scored a simply astonishing 672 goals in 778 appearances for the Blaugrana.
During his time at the club, he was subject to plenty of speculation suggesting he could be lured elsewhere. Indeed, the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City were among those linked with a historical transfer. Ultimately, though, it was PSG who would lure Messi from the Nou Camp, signing him on a free transfer in summer 2021.
That move is yet to see Messi replicate anywhere near the incredible success he has enjoyed at Barcelona. Nonethess, there was surprise the world over when that move was eventually allowed to go through.
And the fact he departed on a free transfer amid crippling Barcelona financial issues made the story even more incredible.
Talks over a new deal to keep him at Barcelona were well documented, with those talks heightening in summer 2020. Now a report has revealed he unbelievable demands Messi made of Barcelona during those negotiations.
As per El Mundo, Barcelona were left with little choice but to let Messi leave after failing to meet his nine contract demands.
These have now been listed by the paper. And it’s fair to say there is little surprise that reaching an agreement eluded Barca.
Lionel Messi and his nine Barcelona demands
1. Three-year extension. Perhaps the most reasonable of all demands, then 33-year-old wanted a deal to keep him at Nou Camp until 2026. Given his status as one of, if not the best, player in the world, the request for three more years was not seen as unreasonable.
2. A private box at the Nou Camp for his family and Luis Suarez. The former Liverpool striker would also go on to leave Barca in summer 2020. Might the demand for a private box on both their behalves have sped up the Uruguayan’s exit?
3. €10m reneweal bonus. For a cash-strapped club, simply paying Messi a bonus of around £8.7m just did not seem feasible. El Mundo claims Barca tried to negotiate against that, especially with their monetary issues escalating.
4. Commission to his brother. As part of any contract negotiations, Messi wanted his brother Rodrigo to collect a bonus as part of his renewal. Barcelona reportedly agreed to this, with Rodrigo also representing teammate Ansu Fati at the same time.
5. Renoval of release clause. Messi’s previous deal had a release clause in it set at €700m. That’s a very common practice in the Spanish leagues, but Messi reportedly was wanting this lowering to just €10,000. Understandably, Barca were just not that keen….
6. Repayment of wages cut with added interest. To help make ends meet during the Covid-19 pandemic, Messi and the entire Barca squad all agreed voluntary salary cuts. Messi reportedly was seeking reinbursement on these but with a 3% interest on top.
Demands too great for Barcelona
7. Protection against Spanish tax rises. A remarkable request, but Messi wanted Barcelona to remunerate him should the laws in Spain demand he paid more money to the state in taxes.
8. His own private jet. Messi wanted his own airplane on hand to allow him and his family to return home at Christmas.
9. Job security for his personal assistant. Whether this was for personal gain or simply to save the job of a colleague, Lionel Messi was reportedly alarmed that Pepe Costa was in danger of losing their job as a result of the pandemic.
Incredibly, the report claims then Barca president Josep Bartomeu agreed to all but two of Messi’s demands.
However, their failure to agree to the rejection of a signing bonus (point 3) and the decision not to scrap his release clause (point 5) were seemingly enough for the talks to break down.
As such, while talks continued over the following weeks and months, common ground could not be found.
That ultimately led to his free-transfer departure the following summer with the star joining PSG. That two-year deal he has signed in Paris is due to expire in summer 2023, though the Ligue 1 giants do hold a one-year option on that.
Quite where Messi will go from there remains to be seen and PSG are yet to fully reap the full benefits of his incredible ability.
Perhaps, though, at 35 his powers are in a slow decline. To this date Lionel Messi has just 17 goals in 45 games for the club.
Just maybe a final swansong for Messi awaits in MLS, with Inter Miami among those reportedly keen on his signature.