The biggest soccer story of the day, and possibly year, is Lionel Messi coming to Inter Miami to continue his career. Messi is entering the last stage of his storied career but still is among the best players in the world at 35 and would immediately command significant buzz in Major League Soccer. This decision hasn’t sat well with FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who was hoping for a reunion with the superstar after having to part ways with him a few seasons ago.
Here’s the full statement Barcelona released upon Messi’s decision. This excerpt is key.
“President Laporta understood and respected Messi’s decision to want to compete in a league with fewer demands, further away from the spotlight and the pressure he has been subject to in recent years.”
Talk about somebody feeling hung out to dry. Laporta clearly wanted a reunion with Messi, who no doubt would’ve returned to Barcelona if the finances made it possible. Of course, this wasn’t entirely about money because Messi turned down a contract worth more than a billion dollars in Saudi Arabia. However, Barcelona would not have been able to pay Messi enough given the financial crisis the club is facing. La Liga already forced them to get rid of Messi once, and they haven’t exactly cleaned up their act to ensure the league body would allow a contract like Messi’s to be fit into the team structure.
Messi’s final years in Barcelona were marked by failures in both the domestic league and Champions League, so it’s understandable that he doesn’t want to go through those rigors again at this stage of his career. Laporta throwing some unnecessary shade at Messi when a simple “we wish him the best and we love him” would suffice is just another bad look for an otherwise storied club.