FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi might leave the club at the end of the current season and his most likely destination is outside Spain. La Liga president Javier Tebas claims that the league is "ready" for the superstar's exit.
At the end of the 2019-20 season, Messi submitted a transfer request to FC Barcelona. It was widely believed that English Premier League side Manchester City was keen on signing the Argentine. However, a massively expensive exit clause and a potentially long and arduous legal battle prevented the transfer from happening.
Messi had to back down and accept the fact that he would need to play through the current season until his contract expires in June 2021. The whole debacle resulted in the resignation of Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his entire board of directors.
Now that Barcelona is well and truly in the process of rebuilding with a new coach and elections slated for January, the question remains about Messi's future. Will he stay beyond the 2020-21 season? Tebas believes that even if he leaves, La Liga can cope with losing one of football's biggest stars.
Tebas believes that La Liga will move on and continue to thrive in the same way that it did even after the departures of Neymar Jr. in 2017 and Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018.
"We would prefer Messi to stay in La Liga but Ronaldo and Neymar left and we have not noticed any difference," Tebas said, as quoted by the BBC. "We are ready."
33-year-old Messi will be available for a free transfer at the end of the season and Manchester City appears to be a likely destination. The link with the Premier League side stems not necessarily from an open show of interest, but the fact that very few other clubs have the financial capability to sign the Argentine behemoth.
Tebas has openly criticised City, saying that they are not playing on an even field when it comes to finances. "It seems the only club in Premier League that talks about registering Messi is Manchester City, who compete outside the rules," he said. The La Liga president further stated that "City is neither affected by Covid or pandemics or anything because they are financed differently and it is impossible to fight against that."
Meanwhile, Barcelona like many other professional clubs, is in the midst of a financial crisis due largely to the pandemic. The Catalan giants are currently embroiled in tough negotiations with their players and other employees about pay cuts.