This isn't the first story and won't be the last about mega-rich clubs trying to prise the Argentine star away from Camp Nou.
But it raises a couple of interesting questions.
What would Barcelona do in the event of an offer like this? And what should they do?
The two questions don’t necessarily have the same answer. Let’s start with the former.
Barcelona would have to accept the offer as it meets his release clause, as El Confidencial indicates.
But they would still have to value the star, to find out if they were getting a fair amount—if they were getting more money than they rated Messi at, they could let the deal play out.
If they were getting less, then they could offer the forward a new deal in a desperate attempt to keep him.
Working out his value might prove quite difficult.
No player as good as Messi has ever been sold on the transfer market.
So putting the worth of Messi into a numerical figure won’t be easy. Especially when you consider he is a global superstar who has an impact on the general sponsorship deals the club accumulates.
Brands aren’t just buying into Barcelona; they’re buying into Messi too.
Work on a new contract for Messi at the club is due anyway, as per the Daily Mail. You would imagine they’d raise his release fee clause in a potential new deal.
The club certainly aren’t keen on selling him.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu spoke to Sky Sports, h/t Football Espana, about a possible new contract for Messi:
We cannot say when it’ll happen. In these things we try to be as sensitive as possible. What I can say is that he is the best player in the world and we want him to be the best paid. Messi is the best and we want him to be happy. As a player he was almost born in Barcelona and he wants to remain here. If everyone is satisfied we will have Messi for many years. He’s not for sale.
It’s pretty clear that the club don’t want to sell the star and would do everything they could to stop it happening.
But now we ask, if Barcelona did receive a huge offer for Messi, should they sell him?
They have Neymar waiting in the wings for a key role. He’s the main man for Brazil and with his hat-trick against South Africa in Wednesday’s friendly showed he can flourish with that responsibility.
The money would allow them to rebuild the rundown parts of the squad. They need a centre-back, and getting a decent one will cost them around £30 million.
That’s only a little more than what they’re planning to bid for David Luiz, according to The Telegraph.
It would leave them a lot more to spend on replacing Messi—if anything was easier said than done, this is it—and buying a central midfielder.
Selling Messi would also make the side a little less predictable; it’s not that Barcelona are a one-man team, it’s just that if you stifle the Argentine, you’ve dealt with what is clearly the Catalan side’s most dangerous element.
Franck Ribery is nominally Bayern Munich’s star man, but in truth, he’s not much better than the players that surround him. He’s the best of a great bunch.
So those are the reasons Barcelona might be wise to consider allowing Messi to leave.
And the reasons why they should keep him?
Just watch Messi play, and that’s reason enough. He’s the greatest player this generation has known.
Whatever the justifications for selling him are, there will always be more for keeping him.
He’s smashed several records already and he’s ploughing his way to the top, even if he’s not yet on top form.
Messi is Barcelona. They shouldn’t sell him.
But the difference between asking that question a year ago and today is that a year ago it would have been a downright ludicrous proposition. Today, just a faintly comic one.