Report that Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona next summer doesn't add up

Denis Doyle

According to Punto Pelota journalist Francois Gallardo, Messi will leave Barcelona next summer. The trouble is, his claims just don't add up.

A surprise report by Punto Pelota writer Fracois Gallardo has the Internet abuzz after he claimed that Lionel Messi is plotting an exit from Barcelona next summer.

Gallardo claims that the relationship between the club and Messi's advisers is null and that Messi feels betrayed by Barcelona. He goes on to claim that he has a verbal agreement with another team. Thanks to Football Espana, we have some of the highlights of Gallardo's story translated:

"In fact, he has a verbal agreement with another team and from February or March will begin planning his transfer.

"In late September, hardly two months ago, a Blaugrana player and his representatives met with Barca. The footballer wanted a revision of his contract with the Catalan club that he was promised would be fulfilled.

"An increase was agreed. However, after a month the club got in touch with him and explained they were unable to do it."

You can read all the details in the original article here, but it's in Spanish.

Wow! What a bombshell ... or is it?

Corsoirish_medium

NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!

Gallardo might very well have a source that's told him this, but the facts concerning Messi's contract status don't lend a great deal of credence to the story. Messi just agreed to a new contract extension in February with Barcelona that is set to run through the 2018 season.

In addition to the massive salary, Messi agreed to keep his buyout clause set at €248 million. While there's a couple clubs that could conceivably come up with that staggering amount of money -- Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco come to mind -- UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules would make it virtually impossible for any of those clubs to balance their books in the wake of a €248 million splurge.

Even if Barcelona agreed to drop the fee down to, let's say, €1 million, that would probably force a team like PSG to sell off Zlatan Ibrahimiovic and another start player to keep from drawing UEFA's ire.

Gallardo also claimed that the crux of the problem between Messi's people and Barcelona was the fact that Neymar was being paid more than Messi, somewhere around €17 million per year.

Hmm.

Messi reportedly earns a net salary of €10.9 million per season, making him the highest paid player on the team ahead of Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Piqué and Neymar. While Neymar's salary hasn't been made public, it's absurd to think that Barcelona would pay a talented, but somewhat unproven young player like Neymar more than Messi.

Essentially, this story doesn't make sense. Messi remains the highest paid player on the club, by all indications. Barcelona have consistently been willing to negotiate new deals with him over the past few seasons and there's no reason to believe they won't do whatever they need to keep their star striker happy and at the top of the earnings rankings in the sport.

Either Gallardo has discovered the footballing story of the decade or someone is trying to sell everyone some oceanfront property in Arizona.

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