Messi to leave Barcelona: Breaking down the scenarios on how this saga will play out

Ninety-nine words are required to erase 21 years of walking hand in hand...not counting 810 professional matches, 683 goals and 7 Copas del Rey titles, 4 Champions League crowns, 3 FIFA Club World Cups, and 7 Copas del Rey.Barcelona's terse statement Thursday seems to have left no doubt, down to the headline of the club website -- Leo Messi leaving FC Barcelona -- which essentially sums up the end of what is arguably the greatest club career by any player.- Sources: Messi's Barcelona deal in limbo- Social media reacts in kind to Messi newsMessi timeline: Barcelona's 20-year history broken downHowever, just like Messi's "Burofax” incident 12 months ago, there is more to this story than meets the eye.Q: A few weeks back, everyone was reporting that Messi had signed a new contract with the club. Spanish media hailed today as "Messi Day", the day when all this would become official. What happened?A: We know that the club is unable to register the contract because of the Spanish league's rules regarding player registration. This despite the fact that they have reached an agreement for a five-year deal to sign with Messi. Although they don't give any details, it is safe to assume that they are referring to LaLiga’s version of the “salary cap”, which restricts spending on wages and player acquisitions based on projected club revenues and costs. Messi's new contract will not be approved because Barcelona is in financial trouble. They have more than a billion dollars in debt. This means that he will be leaving.Q: How did this happen? They knew the limits going into the summer and Messi negotiations.A: That's one of the mysteries. They spent $9.6million on Emerson from Real Betis, signed three free agents -- Memphis Depay from Lyon, Sergio Aguero from Manchester City, and Eric Garcia from Valencia -- all of which come with high salaries. It begs the obvious question: If Messi were your priority (which he clearly was), then why would you spend $50m on wages and the Emerson fee to sign four more players if you could afford it? Many speculate that there is more.Messi would like to remain at Barcelona. However, forces beyond his control could mean that this split is permanent. David Ramos/Getty ImagesQ: What is the difference between?A: There are reports that the Messi deal was not completed in time. Some reports suggest that the commissions were not paid on the final day. Also, that Messi wasn't happy with the club's transfer deals this summer. The club can't blame Messi so they are blaming LaLiga's regulations. While there may be truth to that, a more plausible explanation is the tension with LaLiga. It could be that Barca president Joan Laporta has been playing power games with Liga boss Javier Tebas.Q: What is that all about?A: One word: Control. Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus are the only three clubs that haven't dropped out of Super League. They are actually taking legal action in support of their cause. As you would expect, Tebas is determined to oppose the Super League, believing it will harm the competitive balance in LaLiga. Tebas's deal with CVC Capital Partners, a private equity company, would see LaLiga receiving a cash injection of approximately $3.2 billion. This will be in exchange for 10% of future revenue and a 10% stake at a new commercial company. Barcelona and Real Madrid, who, perhaps not coincidentally issued their own statement deploring the deal on Thursday, are opposed to the CVC agreement.Q: What makes them dislike the deal? They want the cash.A: They do. But they also claim that Tebas signed the agreement without their knowledge. This means that the club's future is now in the hands of private investors. They are likely unhappy about how LaLiga or CVC might redistribute money going forward. Real Madrid and Barcelona will likely lead the "no" side of the deal.Q: That's great, but how did Messi get there?A: LaLiga is a product that is less valuable without Messi. His departure or the mere possibility of it could cause public opposition to Tebas and his plans. Real Madrid and Barcelona generate the majority of Liga revenue, and a significant portion of it trickles down to other clubs. Messi's departure would not only hurt Barcelona but also LaLiga. Not just in terms commercial terms, but also in terms of image. Another theory being discussed is that of the aforementioned 'potentials'. However, there is a third scenario, which may be more plausible.Messi is a close friend of Joan Laporta, the returning president. However, this negotiation was more difficult than anyone anticipated. Jose Luis Contreras/DAX Images/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesQ: What is that?A: It is hard to believe that after months of talking to Messi's family, Barcelona couldn't get their numbers right. They suddenly realized they couldn't afford to pay him. They made sure to keep the cap in mind when they agreed to the five-year contract. The transfer window is still open through September. They might be able to move on players to keep him around. Although it would be difficult as the players they want to transfer from Barca have high salaries and few clubs can afford them, there are still ways to do it. It's also worth noting that Messi could reduce his wage demands, or add more bonuses to his package if he was as committed as they suggest. Instead, they are announcing they are quitting.Leo #Messi will not continue with FC Barcelona FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 5, 2021Q: What does this mean?A: It's a strategic move to terrorize Tebas. It could be done in the context of CVC, the Super League, or simply to reduce their salary cap. This is like giving up without fighting. This is what Messi and Barcelona are doing.Q: Okay, let's suppose you're wrong. Let's say it is over. What could he do next?A: All the usual suspects will be discussed: Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United, and possibly a move to Major League Soccer. The fact is that Messi was a free agent as of July 1, and legally could have signed a contract with any other team starting January 1. There may have been some interest from City twelve months ago in the Burofax days but it's not like clubs were trying to get him in the last six months. Why? Many believed that he was committed at Barcelona. Most clubs now have other plans. City is interested in Harry Kane. PSG is trying to extend Kylian's contract before he becomes an unrestricted agent next June. They've also committed large amounts of salary on free agents such as Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Sergio Ramos. Signing Messi is a massive undertaking. You don't just magically make half a million dollars in five years.Q: What's the next step?A: This is speculation only. We may learn more from Laporta when he addresses the media on Friday. By the way, Messi has not yet spoken to us. We are in a situation where, at least according to Barca, Messi wants to remain and the club want him to stay, but the league won’t allow it. This would be a huge blow to everyone, league included. Do you find that sounds reasonable or logical? It doesn't. It isn't. I think he will still be a Barcelona player on Sept. 1. He will either have restructured their contract or Barca will have recouped transfer fees. La Liga will also have adjusted their salary cap in order to accommodate the club. Or all three.