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Post-Messi saga: What next for Barcelona?

PSG set to assemble truly Galactico squad in bid for European conquest

Hours after Messi held a press conference at the Camp Nou to officially announce his exit from Barcelona, Sergio Busquets led the Blaugrana onto the pitch of the Estadi Johan Cruyff to sweep aside Juventus 3-0 in the preseason Joan Gamper Cup.

Despite being in shock following their forced separation from their captain, Barcelona’s stars lined up against Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus at their mini-stadium in their annual traditional preseason tournament. Goals from Memphis Depay, Martin Braithwaite and Riqui Puig ensured that Barcelona secured a 3-0 win in spite of the doom and gloom that hung over the club following Messi’s exit. Second-choice goalkeeper Murara Neto was man of the match and new signings Yusuf Demir, Emerson Royal and Memphis Depay gave good accounts of themselves. The fans present in the stadium chanted Messi’s name in the 10th minute as a tribute to the Argentine great, and Busquets ended up receiving the Joan Gamper trophy for his team after their win.

It was not all great at the Camp Nou afterwards as the team’s doctors announced that new signing Sergio Aguero had picked up a calf injury that would sideline him for around 10 weeks. Then came the numbers; financial analysts and experts crunched figures together and came up with the potential drop in revenue for the club and the league as a whole, and it looked really bad for Barcelona. Here is the comprehensive list of the potential fallout:

• €50 million collected from taxes.
• The disappearance of the best-selling shirt in the world.
• €950 million sponsorship contract from Nike.
• €111 million, profit from Messi’s photos.
• Barcelona’s profits and revenues as a city from tourism declined by more than a third.
• Barcelona’s market value decreased by €3.19 billion.
• Barcelona will lose €60 million from commercial advertising annually.
• Sponsors contracts at risk of disappearing, amounting to €74 million annually; €55 million from Rakuten and €19 million from Beko.
• Barcelona will lose about €175 million in ticket revenue , especially from the outside of Spain.
• The value of La Liga television broadcasts decreased by €1.7 billion.
• €3.4 billion for a period of 3 years, the value of the La Liga contract with the Spanish telecom company is threatened with cancellation.

While we agree that some of these figures may have been exaggerated, it is impossible to ignore the fact that there would be damaging financial repercussions for the club and league at large. Barcelona president Joan Laporta is willing to face these implications head-on, knowing that sooner rather than later, Messi would have left the club eventually. The balanced mix between youth and experience at the Nou Camp this season might be good for the club and may help the club during this lean period to not miss out on too many trophies. Ultimately, Barcelona would have to adjust to life without Leo Messi.

On the other hand, Mauricio Pochettino has just encountered the misfortune of managing a truly star-studded side, if the rumours turn out to be true. The prospect of adding Messi to the marquee signings already completed by PSG would be sufficient to make any manager’s dreams come true. On the flip side, it puts Pochettino at risk of finding himself out of a job without the slightest warning.

With the squad at his disposal, the higher-ups at PSG would surely expect him to go one better than last season’s semifinals of the Champions League; adding Messi to the squad would definitely raise the pressure on Pochettino by a significant degree. With a talented manager that has a huge Champions League pedigree like Zinedine Zidane currently without a job, Pochettino has zero room for error at PSG this season.

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