Following an announcement from FC Barcelona that star player Lionel Messi will have to leave due to ‘financial obstacles’, fans are clinging on to hope that the move is a ploy to pressure Spanish La Liga bosses into a U-turn.
In a shock development after a lunch meeting between Messi’s father and agent Jorge and Barcelona officials on Thursday afternoon, reports began circling in Spain that negotiations over a new deal between club and player had reached “the point of no return.”
Around an hour and a half later, the worst fears of the Blaugrana faithful were confirmed, as the Catalans stated that Messi would be leaving them after 20 years at their La Masia academy and the Camp Nou.
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As social media exploded with reaction to the news, conspiracy theorists began shaping their ideas on what could be behind the latest development.
Retweeting the club’s official statement, SPORT journalist Toni Juanmarti wrote a simple caption that read: “Putting pressure on Tebas. The game CONTINUES.”
By Tebas, he is referring to La Liga president Javier, who has taken a tough stance against a debt-ridden and overspending Barca’s attempts to navigate a strict salary cap.
Elsewhere, fan accounts and supporters have echoed Juanmarti’s theory that today’s seismic activity could all be a ploy to pressure the Spanish top flight chief into shifting the goalposts and letting much-needed star Messi stay.
After all, La Liga yesterday sold a 10% stake in itself to investment fund CVC worth $3.2 billion, with 10% of that amount headed to Barcelona of which 15% can be used on signing new players.
Both Tebas and Laporta weighing short-term value of Messi against bigger long-term interests. The loss of Messi is a huge blow to Barcelona AND to La Liga. pic.twitter.com/1RomcS8qpa
— total Barça (@totalBarca) August 5, 2021
“Both Tebas and [Barcelona president Joan] Laporta [are] weighing [the] short-term value of Messi against bigger long-term interests. The loss of Messi is a huge blow to Barcelona AND to La Liga,” remarked one account.
“This is not how things were supposed to end. The only hope is that La Liga will not be able to handle the pressure and accept Messi’s contract renewal despite breaking the financial regulations,” said another.
This is not how things were supposed to end. The only hope is that La Liga will not be able to handle the pressure and accept Messi’s contract renewal despite breaking the financial regulations.
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) August 5, 2021
Back with SPORT, Juanmarti’s colleague Albert Roge said that “if Messi’s goodbye statement is a measure of pressure on LaLiga to let him register, they [Barca] will have to explain it very well.
“I don’t think the Barca fans will accept that their feeling are played with in this way. We will see [what] the next move [is],” he concluded.