Is Messi Really Going to Leave Barcelona?

Bayern Munich completed their triumphant march to their sixth Champions League title yesterday against Paris Saint-Germain, but the biggest storyline in soccer isn’t about them. It’s about the team they thoroughly embarrassed a week prior. FC Barcelona was forced to confront its crumbling team after an 8-2 thrashing at the hands of the Bavarian champions, but the one decision they don’t want to make might be made for them.

According to various reports, Lionel Messi wants to leave the team after nearly 20 years in Catalonia. What’s more is that there are members of FC Barcelona’s board that would be open to considering a sale of their talisman. But could this really happen? Could Messi really leave the Camp Nou? The implications of such a move would be far-reaching and multi-faceted.

First, there’s the issue of what would happen on the pitch. FC Barcelona would lose the team’s distributor. The man who makes the team function. After all, the Blaugrana have been built around Messi, so if they take out the keystone, the team would likely have a gaping void at its center.

There’s also the cultural loss that they would suffer if Messi left. Simply put, Lionel Messi is FC Barcelona. His name recognition is undeniable. Obviously, it hurt Real Madrid when Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus, but they quickly recovered because they knew life without the Portuguese sensation, since Ronaldo only spent nine years in Madrid. Meanwhile, Lionel Messi has been a part of FC Barcelona since 2001. The idea of him leaving would devastate the team and its fans. Frankly, there might be a revolt if the board sells Messi.

Lastly, there’s the economic loss that Messi’s departure would bring. Obviously, the Blaugrana would bring in a huge fee for Messi, which means there’s only two or three candidates across Europe where he could go. However, FC Barcelona would lose their team’s emblem. People around the world associate FC Barcelona with Lionel Messi. If he’s no longer there, what would they do to replace his presence? All I can think of is bringing back Neymar from Paris, but even Brazil’s best player can’t hold a candle to the icon that is Lionel Messi.

It’ll be very interesting what happens next and FC Barcelona are loathe to the idea of selling Messi. However, if the diminutive Argentinian continues to agitate for a move away, it might change the face of the team forever.

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