News   |    August 9th, 2021


In my 60 years of watching football there have been many great players and right up there would be Pele, Eusebio, Maradona and Messi but for me Messi is the greatest of them all. He is like a magician with a football.

It must be unimaginable for Barcelona fans to watch the team without him in it but after 17 years as a professional at Barcelona that resulted in 10 La Liga titles, 6 Ballon d’Or awards and 4 Champions League trophies, Messi broke down in tears in a press conference and announced he would be calling it a day at Barcelona. This was done in front of an equally tearful audience comprising not only journalists but many of his teammates.

Messi has actually been at Barcelona since he was 13 years old, and he is now 34. It would seem that the perilous state of Barcelona’s finances has finally caught up with them. They need the transfer fee they can get for Messi, and they need him off their wage bill even with the 50% pay cut he offered to take.

A player with his ability, dedication and fitness level will be able to play at the highest level for a few more years yet but like all players of that age, his game time will need to be managed.

It seems sad that he won’t get to say his farewell to the Barcelona fans in a full stadium and surely the club should arrange some sort of testimonial match or similar to ensure he gets the fan adulation he deserves and perhaps any revenue generated should be for the benefit of local charities in the city. The ticket prices for such a match should be kept to a minimum though and not seen as a money-making opportunity.

His destination will now be the subject of intense press scrutiny in the coming weeks with Paris St Germain the favourites especially as he was photographed with 4 PSG players in Ibiza last week. I would love to see him at either of the Manchester clubs in the Premier League as to have the best player in the world playing in this country would catapult the numbers watching the Premier League around the world to even higher levels than at present and dare I say that when the overseas broadcasting rights are re-negotiated having Messi will push those revenues even higher.

After scoring 672 goals for Barcelona, Messi said that he hopes to return one day in some capacity. I believe that it is a given and at a minimum he should perform the same role that Sir Kenny Dalglish does at Anfield, and Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Alex Ferguson do at Old Trafford.

Whatever the future brings I am sure there is still much to come from the little magician and football will be the winner from that.

Image – Europa Press Via Getty Images

Peter Varney - Chairman, Integral Sports Management.

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