Lionel Messi, the world-renowned Argentine footballer, recently completed his move to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) after bidding farewell to Barcelona, the club where he spent his entire career. Despite Messi's sensational arrival, his departure from PSG is still a possibility that could shock the entire football world.
Messi joined PSG in August 2021, after agreeing to a two-year deal, with an option for a third year. Messi, along with Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr. and French whizkid Kylian Mbappé, was part of the offensive trio that many believed was capable of winning the UEFA Champions League. The club was also able to sign highly regarded Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma over the summer.
In 2020 and 2021, Barcelona endured a difficult time, both in terms of finances and performance. The club lost its La Liga title to fierce rivals Real Madrid in 2020 and failed to win a trophy in 2021. Messi, who won an Olympic gold medal with Argentina earlier in the summer, became a free agent at the end of June. Despite rumors of a possible renewal, the club was unable to offer him a contract due to financial issues and salary cap restrictions.
PSG has emerged as a new force in European football in recent years, even before Messi's arrival. The club's owners, Qatar Sports Investments, have spent millions of euros on luring high-profile players and coaches to the club. The club's performance was on the rise, and it reached the Champions League final in 2020, where it lost to Bayern Munich. Messi's signing drew global attention and increased the team's expectations.
However, Messi's contract at PSG only runs until the end of the 2022-23 season, and the club's financial situation is already under scrutiny. L'Equipe, a French newspaper, suggested that PSG is already close to breaching UEFA's Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. PSG has been accused of not respecting the FFP regulations in the past. UEFA penalized the club in 2014, fining it €60 million and imposing squad limits on the team's European campaigns. PSG's acquisition of Messi, as well as other high-profile players, could trigger another investigation by UEFA.
Messi's departure from PSG would be a significant setback for the club. The club has invested heavily in him and his financial rewards alone are substantial. Messi's shirt sales have already broken records, and he has helped the club establish itself as a global brand. In his limited time at the club, PSG has already benefitted from his trademark dribbling, vision and goalscoring.
Messi stated in his presentation as a PSG player that he joined the club to win the Champions League. In that sense, PSG has a realistic chance to lift the trophy this season. However, if Messi does indeed leave the club at the end of his contract, PSG's chances of achieving that success in the future would be considerably reduced. Mbappé's own future has also been the topic of debate since he entered the final year of his PSG deal. The Frenchman is still waiting to sign an extension, and there are rumors of potential interest from Real Madrid.
There are several factors that could lead to Messi's departure from PSG. After the World Cup in 2022, Messi could decide to return to his hometown club, Newell's Old Boys. Alternatively, Messi's departure could be prompted by the world-footballing governing body, FIFA. A potential ban from FIFA for violating its rules regarding breakaway tournaments could have drastic consequences for PSG and other clubs. The club's owners have played an instrumental role in European football's recent proposals to form a Super League. If FIFA were to impose a ban, Messi may decide to leave.
Finally, Messi's departure could also be tied to the club's financial situation and their desire to comply with UEFA's FFP regulations. PSG's owners have spent hundreds of millions of euros on players and are now facing renewed attention from UEFA. To avoid further scrutiny, the club may need to cut costs and reduce its wage bill. Messi is currently the team's highest earner, and there are suggestions that PSG may be forced to let him go at the end of his contract to remedy its financial situation.
In conclusion, Messi's departure from PSG would be a significant blow to the club's ambitions. Despite being at the club for a short time and having helped generate significant revenue and attention around the team, Messi's future remains uncertain. PSG's owners will need to navigate several obstacles, from complying with FFP regulations to dealing with potential bans, if they are to keep Messi and consolidate the promising squad they have assembled.