A few weeks ago, Barcelona captain Lionel Messi called off the negotiations regarding the renewal of his contract with Spanish team Barcelona. This means that once his current contract expires in the summer of 2021 he will most likely leave the Catalan club for good. Apparently, the Argentine football legend did begin to renegotiate his contract with Barca earlier this year but for a variety of reasons, he no longer wishes to stay at Camp Nou.
To add insult to injury, Barca lost the La Liga title to rivals Real Madrid this week in a development pretty much expected by those who bet on sports today. Bookmakers like Betway predicted Real Madrid’s victory, offering odds in favor of it, still not excluding the possibility that Barca could still revert and work through the point difference. But the odds were not in their favor, not at Betway and in real life, so Barca didn’t only lose the title this year but may even miss out on Champions League if it loses to Napoli as Messi has predicted.
Over the last few months, Messi seems to have been the target of a veritable social media campaign that he grew tired of by now. Apparent leaked media reports make him responsible for many things that happened at the club, including the signing of Antoine Griezmann last year and the sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde. Besides, he is frustrated not only by the squad’s lack of quality but also by the many voices telling him that he is responsible for the poor performance of the club. All these have left him disillusioned in the club, he said, which caused the negotiations about a new contract to fall through.
Finding a replacement
Messi is a veritable football legend. He is the all-time top goalscorer at Barcelona, he has won a record six Ballon D’Or awards and holds the records for the most goals scored in La Liga (441 at this time), the most hat-tricks in La Liga (36), and the most assists in La Liga (182).
There are several high-profile footballers who could serve as a replacement for Barcelona’s captain (even though filling his shoes will be a challenge for anyone).
One of the first to come to mind is Neymar, the Brazilian footballer once strengthening Barca’s squad. The Paris Saint Germain forward was reportedly eager to return to Camp Nou but PSG is asking for quite a lot to sign him. Apparently, the Catalan club offered three players in exchange for Neymar – one of Philippe Coutinho, Nelson Semedo, Samuel Umtiti, and Ousmane Dembelé – but PSG only wants Dembelé, plus about US$92 million (NGN36 billion) in exchange for the player.
There are several other players who Barca is reportedly interested in – or should be – to fill the gap left behind by Messi if and when he retires. Among them, Kylian Mbappé, the French wunderkind that pretty much every major European club would like to sign (Real Madrid is, in turn, one of his favorites), German player Leroy Sané, and English forward Marcus Rashford, currently playing for Manchester United.