The Future for Lionel Messi
It started in January when Lionel Messi refused to quash rumours of a departure from Barcelona, the club where he has broken records at. Finishing in the top 2 for the past 8 Ballon d’Ors or equivalent, Lionel Messi has established himself as one of the greatest footballers, possibly in history, and consequently a much dreamed about addition to the Premier League.
Of course, following his dispute with manager Luis Garcia, the tabloids went crazy at the thought of Messi joining the Premier League, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City all being linked as the only real clubs who could seemingly afford the Argentine.
But before even thinking about who can afford the player, it would be questioned how much the La Masia graduate is worth. Well according to the International Centre for Sports Studies, the 27-year old is worth £163 million, and would cost well over double the current transfer record for a British club with compatriot Angel Di Maria currently holding the record just short of £60 million.
This fee would not be a deal-breaker for the likes of Chelsea or Manchester United, with both clubs having good Financial Fair Play records, and the latter having enough wealth due to increased sponsorship rights including a shirt deal for £75 million a year with Adidas, who coincidently back Messi and his sporting attire. Meanwhile, Chelsea are looking strong in both the Champions League and Premier League, and winning both of these competitions could bring around £145 million.
Meanwhile, with the Premier League announcing a new rights package worth over £5.13 billion, and consequently resulting in a 70% increase, the Champions from the 2016-17 season are going to receive at least £60 million more in prize money alone, forgetting the extra facilities cost.
Richard Scudamore, the chief of the Premier League, recognised that with the extra Premier League money, some clubs might be tempted to purchase the World’s best talent.
Scudamore stated, "We're not set up for charitable purposes, we're set up to put on the best possible football competition. The fans want the best players coming to their club.”
Of course, with the world’s greatest talent, would also come the world’s highest wages, and he currently earns around £350,000. But, reports suggest that due to increased Premier League money, wages could be expected to reach £500,000 for top quality players, with £100,000 expected to be a new basic salary for most clubs.
It would also be expected that with Messi in the ranks, a club would only bolster their global appeal, increased sponsorship deals, improved shirt sales and also do better in cup competitions which could relieve some of the financial pressure this potential deal could bring.
But, it must be said that Barcelona have a strong negotiating position with Messi, with the frontman’s contract not expiring until 2018. Not only this, but with Barcelona not allowed to bring in any new talent until the January window of 2016 due to a transfer ban, it’s almost impossible that Garcia’s side would sell the forward, especially in a year where elections for the President of the club are being held.
Fees of £500 million could tempt the side to sell Messi maybe in the summer window of 2016, but even that could be unlikely.
Steve Holland, the assistant manager of Chelsea recently said, “This club conforms with financial fair play. We’ve brought one or two players in over the last 12 months but it’s quite clear that players have been sold to balance the books.
“When you look at the numbers being mentioned around the Messi deal, it’s almost an impossible deal for any club working within the restraints of financial fair play.”
This principle is even likely to cause a problem for some of the richest clubs in the world, such as Paris Saint Germain, with their current sponsorship deals failing to hold up against the strict regulations of Financial Fair Play. Furthermore, with the Ligue 1 club getting less than half the amount of the bottom Premier League club in regard to league television rights money, it would be difficult to see how the Parisian club could legitimately afford the Argentine without raising red flags at UEFA headquarters.
Although, when Messi has only two years on his contract remaining come June 2016, a deal for a reduced fee could be done, and with increased money coming into the hands of Premier League clubs, it would be naïve to assume that this deal could not be done.
Written by Matt Davis