Last night, the football world was sent into a frenzy when news broke that Lionel Messi would not be re-signing with Barcelona. The Argentine superstar is synonymous with the Catalan club. However, due to their financial problems, the Blaugrana will not be able to afford to offer the forward a contract.
This means that Lionel Messi is now free to negotiate a deal to join any club he wants, in what is sure to be the biggest signing in the history of football. French giants PSG are currently favorites to land the Argentine's signature and reunite him with former Barcelona superstar Neymar.
Lionel Messi's departure will be a huge loss for Barcelona and La Liga in more ways than one. The Argentine has been a cornerstone of the club and the league for almost two decades and losing him will be a huge hit in terms of marketability and revenue.
However, it is not all doom and gloom for Barcelona, and Lionel Messi's departure could be a blessing in disguise for the Catalan giants. Here's why:
1) Not re-signing Lionel Messi benefits Barcelona's financial situation massively
The main reason why Barcelona cannot afford to offer Lionel Messi a new deal is because the club is currently in a massive financial crisis. They have had to make major cut-backs to their squad before the commencement of the 2021-22 season.
Last month, La Liga reportedly placed sanctions on Barcelona, which would require the club to drastically reduce their wage bill, if they wanted to be able to register Lionel Messi for the upcoming season. However, the Blaugrana have had no luck in clearing the deadwood from their squad and cannot afford to bring the Argentine back.
In footballing terms, there is no player on the planet that can replace Lionel Messi. However, the Argentine's burgeoning contract would have put Barcelona further in the red and his departure could be seen as a blessing.
The Blaugrana reportedly have to make savings of €200 million before the start of the 2021-22 campaign and can now focus on selling other players in order to do so.
The club no longer have the ordeal of re-signing Lionel Messi looming over their heads and now Barcelona can begin planning for the future.
2) Barcelona can finally begin their rebuild
Barcelona have been on the decline over the past two years, and that came to the fore during their disappointing 2020-21 campaign. The Blaugrana finished 3rd in La Liga and were knocked out of the Champions League by PSG in the Round of 16.
Many of the stars that made Barcelona the dominant force it was during the 2010's are now past their primes. Players like Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets are no longer the world-beaters they used to be and it is time to usher in a new generation at the club.
The departure of Lionel Messi will allow Ronald Koeman to build the team the way he wants to. Barcelona were far too reliant on the Argentine last season and can now finally go into a complete rebuild to bring the club back to their dominant best organically.
3) Antoine Griezmann can finally be allowed to shine
Due to Lionel Messi's talents, other players have oftentimes not been able to showcase their own abilities at Barcelona. This has been the case with players such as Thierry Henry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Neymar in the past, who were world class players in their own right, but had to take a backseat to accommodate Messi's sheer brilliance.
This has, to an extent, been the case for Antoine Griezmann during his tenure at Barcelona. The French superstar is regarded as one of the best players in the world and has shown his quality time and time again for the national team. However, at club level, the forward has had to play second-fiddle to Lionel Messi.
The Argentine's departure could finally allow Griezmann to take his game to the next level at Barcelona. Moreso, with the arrival of Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay, Barcelona have players who could help alleviate the loss of Lionel Messi's incredible goal contributions and help support the Frenchman in leading the club back to the top.
However, it remains to be seen whether Barcelona will decide to stick with the Frenchman or let him leave the club this summer.
4) Barcelona can focus on developing their youth
Ronald Koeman showed last season that he was not afraid to give youth players a chance in the first team. Barcelona's famous academy, La Masia, has produced the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique and Sergio Busquets in the past and it looks like this generation of players are also set to be superstars in the future.
Koeman gave the likes of Pedri, Ansu Fati, Riqui Puig, Oscar Mingueza and Ilaix Moriba a platform to showcase their abilities last season, and the youngsters wasted no time in showing announcing themselves to the world. Pedri and Ansu Fati in particular seem like they are going to be amongst the world's best in the near future. The Spaniards' performances have already seen them become full-fledged internationals, with Pedri representing Spain at Euro 2020 and at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Lionel Messi's departure will allow Ronald Koeman to give more opportunities to his youngsters and help set the foundation for Barcelona to build upon for many years to come.
5) Lionel Messi's situation will teach Barcelona a lesson
Although there will never be another player like Lionel Messi, Barcelona will now know that they can never get into this type of situation with a player's contract again.
The Blaugrana were reportedly paying Messi €515,000 per week with massive added bonuses, which made him the highest paid player in the world, and deservedly so. However, with how things unfolded, Barcelona have come out looking financially inept when it comes to handling their players' contracts.
The club are believed to have accumulated over €1 billion in debt, and a large chunk of that was to accommodate Lionel Messi's massive contract. This situation should hopefully make them rethink their payment structure and how they approach contract negotiations in the future.
All said and done, Lionel Messi deserved every penny he made over his illustrious tenure at Barcelona, but his departure will benefit the club in more ways than one.