If you're the type of person who got really frustrated with the Gareth Bale-Real Madrid and Eden Hazard-Chelsea transfer sagas, now might be a good time to look away. Because if the latest reports are to be believed, the mother of all transfer stories could very well be upon us.
Catalan sports channel Esport3 (via The Mirror's Alex Richards) claims Argentinian superstar and four-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi has grown "disillusioned" with Barcelona, as certain members of the club believe the player's skills are waning and now would be the perfect time to move their star forward.
Enter Manchester City, who are reportedly considering making a £250-million move for the striker this summer, per The Mirror.
Allow me to repeat that figure: 250. Million. Pounds.
Anyone not in the corner of the Sky Blues should cringe at the thought of such a monstrous transfer fee, as such a move would make a mockery of UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, it's important to take a step back and face reality: Barring a major falling out within the Catalan giants, there is simply no way Messi will be leaving the Blaugrana anytime soon. Not even for £250 million.
In case you haven't been paying attention—Barcelona are in crisis. Fans and media alike are calling out the players, the board and manager Gerardo Martino, with the latter recently stepping forward to take the blame, per the Associated Press (via Fox Sports).
One of the first things Martinez did was comment on Messi's performances, his future and the rumours that he could be leaving the club:
That people are talking about Messi's future surprises us, I don't take those comments seriously. A football player, when he finds himself in these types of circumstances, focuses on the game. Sometimes they can play better or worse, but since it is (Messi) everything is overblown. His future must be in Barcelona until he stops playing.
Fans and pundits might disagree with the approach the man has taken in coaching the team this season, as the Catalans could finish the season trophy-less for the first time since 2008, but you'll find it very hard to disagree with that last line.
Messi is Barcelona, and Barcelona is Messi. The club moulded him into the player he is today, and he in turn carried his club on his back into the most successful period in team history.
Imagine club officials announcing to the world they've decided to sell their most popular and arguably best player. The fans wouldn't just riot in the streets—they'd seriously consider burning down the Camp Nou.
That is, if Barcelona actually could sell him. In case you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, the club are facing a transfer ban, and while the Blaugrana are planning to appeal, Barcastuff knows even the club themselves don't believe they'll be successful in overturning FIFA's decision:
Barcelona don't expect Fifa's Appeal Committee to suspend the transfer ban. Next appeal will be at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. [md]— barcastuff (@barcastuff) April 15, 2014
The appeal will probably push back the timing of the transfer ban, reported to be two windows as explained by BBC Sport's John Watson, but if you believe the club would use potentially the last window before the ban to move their most influential player, you need to get your head checked.
And then there's the astronomical £250-million transfer fee. While that may seem like a ridiculous amount of money for a single player, Cadena SER (via Football Espana) reported sports marketing specialists like Gerardo Molina calculated his actual value to the club and came up with a number even greater than that:
Messi is five times more marketable than Cristiano Ronaldo. According to studies, Ronaldo is worth between €150-160m.
Messi’s buy-out clause is €250m, we believe that figure is obsolete and devalued. Right now there is no player in the world of sport that has a greater value than Leo Messi. According to market research in the last five years, Messi is worth €400m.
Shirt sales, ticket sales, general merchandising and sponsorships, you name it: Messi is worth at least £330 million, according to Molina. Even if his skills were hypothetically waning, which is debatable, selling the superstar would still be financial suicide for the Blaugrana.
Will Barcelona sell Messi?
Oh, and those waning skills? WhoScored says Messi has 33 goals and 10 assists in 33 games this season. If Barcelona's board associates those numbers with a player on the decline, they should perhaps consider a career change.
There's just no reason for Barcelona to sell Messi, in the same way that there's no reason for Messi to leave the club. Not now, and probably not before the end of his career.
The Messi-to-City rumour is a nice story, but it's no more than that—a story. Barring something catastrophic happening within the club, it's simply not going to happen.