Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona, marks the end of an era in the sport and in the partnership between the Catalan giants and the Argentine superstar. If we put on the magnifying glass and examine the behind-the-scenes developments that led to Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona, what you'll find is a star in a state of shock.
Messi had his Barcelona contract ready to put pen to paper as of last Thursday at the Camp Nou and did not anticipate the incredible U-turn on his situation. Even Barça had schedule a special announcement for Thursday at 8:45 p.m., with the two parties ready to announce to the world a contract renewal until June 30, 2026 with the Blaugrana side. Instead, what we got was the two parties still blocked by La Liga rules what was a concluded and completed agreement.
When the news reached Messi and his father Jorge Messi, they were described as surprised, amazed and even incredulous. But they appreciated the honesty of Barça president Joan Laporta, who communicated to them that they could no longer put up a fight to keep his wages at the club based on these rules, as Messi confirmed Sunday morning in what was a surreal farewell press conference at Camp Nou. Indeed, there's still excellent relations but bittersweet disappointment for not being able to continue this partnership together for a few years as planned.
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Shortly after 7:45 p.m. local time on Thursday, Barcelona sent the announcement that sent shockwaves rippling through the sports world still to this day. At approximately 9 p.m., not even two hours later, Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo Araújo made contact with Jorge Messi and Leo's lawyers to engage interest and commence negotiations, which took off over the span of 24 hours. PSG were the only club to contact Messi directly without using agents or intermediaries, a decision that was much appreciated by Messi's camp, particularly Jorge. The French giants had already approached Messi in April to better gauge his contractual situation and his future ahead of his free agency period. At the time, Messi had given the same response to Les Parisiens as to Manchester City: "No, thank you. I will stay at Barcelona and sign my contract renewal."
Little did both sides know that La Liga's salary cap rules would then block everything, and only then did Messi and his father decide to take the PSG offer seriously.
That same Thursday night, Leonardo, along with club chairman and president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, directly began to prepare and drafting a contract in verbal form that eventually convinced Messi. The proposed contract details: An agreement until June 30, 2023, with the option to extend his salary of €25 million ($29.4 million) net per season, plus add-ons up to a maximum of €35 million ($41.2 million) for each season until 2024.
Messi is open to accepting, but there are still some details to be ironed out and tweaked in order for both sides to come to terms on a full agreement and provide signatures in the coming days. It's only a matter of time. In the dressing room, rumors since Friday morning suggest that Neymar, Messi's closest friend and former Barça teammate, already announced Messi as PSG newest player.
Everything is on track to be concluded by next week, as PSG are in a hurry and want to get to the signatures as soon as possible. Work is also underway on Leo's arrival in Paris with his father Jorge, with the official presentation in the city. Plans for how they want to make the announcement have already begun, as Messi and PSG are ready to start this new adventure, but the timing of the announcement remains up in the air. And to think that a just week ago the two sides were not even contact, and as of Sunday, Messi to PSG is a reality. Just another incredible story produced by the ever-changing transfer market.