There were few one club men left in football. So watching Lionel Messi leave Barcelona due to one of the most catastrophic messes in domestic football history feels like a bitter pill to swallow.

The Argentinian maestro agreed a 50% pay cut to stay and if you take everything that has been said at face value, Barcelona have simply done bad business, at a very costly price. But what does it mean for Messi?

He Was Always Going To Leave

It’s fair to say that Messi was always going to leave Barcelona at some point. His boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys seemed the likely option, sailing off into retirement sunset in his homeland. That, of course, will still happen.

Last year proved the first moments in which there may be a stop gap before that move, joining up with Pep at Manchester City or former colleague Neymar at PSG. It has proven the latter. For his legacy, while many are saying that is secure, we all know Barcelona are a fickle bunch, and in the Champions League they could be at their ficklest.

We all remember the pigs head, the boos when Messi was out of form. The Nou Camp can turn quickly. As PSG look to march closer to European glory, if the two sides come face to face, could it be 90 to 180 minutes that tarnishes the Messi name forever?

It’s a unique situation. We have yet to see one of the true Barca greats go up against their former club in the social media era. Xavi and Iniesta made safe and lucrative moves to Asia, while Carles Puyol called it a day at the club where he represented the first team for a decade and a half. Puyol has led the tributes to Messi, and with those players, and journalists within the industry, and even among those loyal fans.

Money Grabbing Messi?

It’s not the loyal fans that are the issue though. It’s the trolls that lurk under the social media bridge. We’ve already seen accusations of money-grabbing and bridges burnt.

But isn’t that life? You take the best deal you are offered?

Every element of life every single troll looks for it. If you’re offered a better paid job, 99% of people would take it. Just because we’re talking £25million per year deals, that’s no different.

In entertainment, you’d update your subscription package if there was a better deal elsewhere. The reality of online casinos, as an example, is that people take a welcome offer and then move on to the next welcome bonus, often little loyalty considered. It’s a fact of life.

Should Messi score against Barcelona to knock them out. His legacy will be in tatters. But only among a few. The few that hurl abuse at a player when he has an off day, or fall out with their club because they haven’t spent £100m in the transfer window. The people you can’t please.

For the people that matter it remains 672 goals, 10 league titles, seven Copa del Reys, eight Spanish Super Cups, four Champions Leagues, and the rest. Legacy? We imagine the statue designs are already in progress…

Chris Darwen
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