On 16th October 2004, a certain 5 feet 6-inch player made his debut for FC Barcelona. He was an academy player who was just 17 years of age but was considered a more than decent talent. He made his debut against Espanyol. In that Espanyol side, there was a player named Mauricio Pochettino. And like we said earlier, it was 2004. Today as we write this article, it's the year 2021 and Pochettino is the head coach of French giants Paris Saint Germain. He has been one of the most successful coaches in recent times after having reached the Champions League Final and also becoming the runners up in the Premier League with an average Tottenham Hotspur team. He has managed a host of clubs like Espanyol, Southampton, Tottenham and now PSG. He has now been a manager for more than 12 years.
Now coming to the fact that will blow your mind. Today, that 17-year-old player who made his debut when Pochettino was a player has now signed to play for PSG. He will now play as a player under Pochettino whom he made his debut against. And in the gap of those years, that 17 years old has played 778 games for Barcelona. He has scored 672 goals & provided 266 assists in the meantime in those games. This makes it roughly an average goal contribution of 1.20 goals per game. That too when you have played 778 games. Simply, Mind-Blowing! Period.
Do we need to give you a few chances to guess who the player is?
Hell No! We don’t want to insult you by doing so.
We are talking about the one and only Lionel Messi. He is also known as the G.O.A.T - Greatest of all time. Do you have any objections?
We certainly didn’t think so!
The Ballon d’Or is the most prestigious award given to a footballer. It is given to the most successful footballer on the planet for his various achievements in a calendar year. Winning even one of them makes you a great footballer. He has won 6 Ballon d’Ors. If that doesn't tell you a story, nothing ever will.
He is considered one of the best players to have ever played the game and always will be. He is a once-in-a-lifetime type of player. There are no two qualms about it. We are lucky that we grew up in a generation that could watch both Ronaldo and Messi play week in and week out.
Now if everything was so right. What actually went wrong? Why did Messi leave Barcelona?
Well, in all honesty, he did not leave Barcelona, he was forced to leave Barcelona and even Barcelona was forced to leave him. Here’s what happened:
Messi had become a free agent after the end of this year’s season as his contract with Barcelona had come to an end as it kept him as a player only till 2022. Last year, Messi could have renewed his contract with Barcelona. But last year, he himself said, he wanted to leave the club due to differences with management and other issues. However, he stayed somehow and since then, there was a huge change in personnel at the club and now he was happy at his boyhood club and was again in no mood to leave here. Even Barcelona never wanted to part with their greatest player ever. So both Barcelona and Messi were about to sign a new deal after some negotiations.
Messi had agreed to cut his wages to 50 percent of what they used to be, just to be with the boyhood club as ever since Covid, Barcelona was in a financial problem, so much so that the club had a debt of GBP 1 Billion. They have a wage bill of GBP 235 million a year. Barcelona and Messi couldn’t renew their contract because according to La Liga Financial Fair Play rules, a club’s wage bill cannot be more than 70 percent of its revenue. With Messi in their ranks, their wage bill would be around 110 percent of their revenue. This is why they couldn't re-sign with Messi. Though what’s funny is even without Messi, their wage bill is still 95 percent of their Revenue.
“We had everything agreed, but at the last minute, it couldn’t happen. This year I wanted to stay and I couldn’t. Last year I didn’t want to stay, and I said it,” Messi said.
A tear-full press conference & a heartfelt goodbye, leaving behind a lifetime of memories and perhaps one of the most beautiful chapters ever in the book of football. The Messi - Barcelona saga somehow ended.
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Messi has now joined PSG - Paris Saint Germain. One of the biggest clubs in the world. It has a galaxy of stars like Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe, Segio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Wjinaldum, Angel Di Maria, Achraf Hakimi and a superb coach like Mauricio Pochettino.