“We decided that the club was above anyone else”

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Barcelona sporting director Mateu Alemany has opened up about Lionel Messi’s exit from the club last summer.

The Argentine left the Blaugrana after 17 illustrious years to join PSG in a stunning transfer last summer. After his contract expired on 30 June 2021, he was supposed to sign a new one with Barcelona, after agreeing to stay on till 2026.

However, La Liga’s financial regulations prevented that from happening, forcing the player to move on.

Lionel Messi signed his first professional contract at Barcelona on this day in 2004 📝 https://t.co/XDcyj7NS9h

As shocking as it seemed, Alemany feels, given the situation prevailing at the time, Messi’s departure was a grim reality. Speaking at the LSE Sports Business conference on Friday, he said:

“Leo Messi’s departure unfortunately wasn’t a surprise. It was the reality at the time. The only way for him to stay was for Barça to join something that we didn’t want to join. We decided that the club was above anyone else. We have lost a lot commercially.”

Messi’s departure wasn’t just emotionally hurtful for fans, but it also wrecked the Blaugrana’s finances. That’s because the club lost millions following a drop in their brand value following Messi’s exit.

Reflecting on the same, Alemany said:

“With Messi’s departure, it is clear that we lost a lot of commercial interest because he was an extremely important asset within the club. Also in the sporting aspect, considering the player he is. However, he had to leave sooner or later. We have entered the rebuilding process, and it had to be done.”

Barcelona’s post-Messi era has been topsy-turvy so far

Barcelona have made a few signings to cement the void left by Messi, although a player of his ilk cannot be replaced per se.

His departure has exposed several chinks in the Blaugrana armour he covered in the last few years. Barcelona are a pale shadow of their former rip-roaring selves that caught Europe’s imagination with their scintillating style of play.

🗣️ Mateu Alemany: “The decision on signings we make depends on Xavi. He was crucial to the deals we made in the winter mercato.” https://t.co/asJlRY2IzR

Former midfielder Xavi, who replaced Ronald Koeman as the Blaugrana manager in November last year, is left with the uphill task of rebuilding the side.

It hasn’t been smooth-sailing, but the rebuild is slowly taking shape, as was seen in their stunning 4-2 victory over holders Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Sunday. Alemany is content with his job so far, and also shed light on the impact he has made in terms of new arrivals:

“Xavi is doing very well in his first months. We’re very happy with his work. Every time we sign players, it depends on the manager. Xavi was crucial regarding the decisions to bring in the winter signings.”

A lot of high-profile players have been linked with the Blaugrana recently. It remains to be seen if the likes of Erling Haaland and others arrive at the Camp Nou next season.

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