“I’ve discussed it with [Joan] Laporta and Javier Tebas,” Angel Torres, president of Getafe, said as carried by Marca. “La Liga cannot allow [Lionel] Messi to leave. That would be a mistake and we would all regret it. The best footballer in the world has to retire in Spain, obviously complying with the rules of economic control. But sometimes you have to lend your hand a little; I hope La Liga are thinking of that. If he leaves, we’ll all be harmed.”

Spanish football has lost a billion euros due to covid-19, with Barcelona alone losing around a quarter of that. This has led to Barcelona living in a precarious situation indeed, with a salary cap placed upon their wage bill by La Liga. Laporta has to bring the club’s wage bill down to 70% of their income; right now it’s at 110%. That means even though Messi has reportedly agreed to a 50% reduction in his salary, Barcelona’s can’t re-sign him.

Messi represents a third of Barcelona’s income, given the strength of the effect his presence has on sponsorship deals, marketing and ticketing. Economists consulted by the report estimate his value to La Liga as being of a similar proportion, 20% or 30%. Spanish football is going through a bit of a crisis of identity at the moment; since 2018, two of La Liga’s biggest names have left in Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos. Should Messi follow, it would seriously damage the league’s commercial appeal.

And beside from that, Messi is integral to Barcelona’s on-field prospects. Despite turning 34 his powers are showing no sign of waning. He led Argentina to the Copa America last month, their first title since 1993. They beat Brazil in the final in Rio de Janeiro, with Messi the undisputed player of the tournament. He contributed four goals and five assists in seven appearances.

This article first appeared on Football Espana and was syndicated with permission.

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