It was the story of the summer: would Lionel Messi leave Barcelona for Manchester City? In the end, Barcelona wouldn’t allow the Argentine to leave before his contract had expired, yet club legend Rivaldo believes that was a mistake.
After being part of a crushing 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Messi indicated his will to leave the Blaugrana, citing a clause in his contract which allowed him to do so.
Some clever legal posturing from Josep Maria Bartomeu followed, and it ensured Messi wouldn’t be able to exercise the clause he believed to be valid without taking the club to court, something he simply wouldn’t do.
“The previous board made a mistake by not selling Messi whilst he was still under contract,” Rivaldo told Betfair.
“They could have done something similar to what Real Madrid did with Cristiano Ronaldo when they sold him and made around 100 million euros.
“It’s very painful to see how a very talented player is going to leave Barcelona for free at a time when the club is going through so many financial problems. For me, Messi’s departure is inevitable.”
With Barcelona’s debt having been revealed to be 1.173 billion euros, the club are in a perilous fiscal situation, with some even citing bankruptcy as a likely outcome, although Rivaldo believes there are sellable assets in the squad.
“With the departure of [Philippe] Coutinho, Barcelona could use [Ousmane] Dembele and [Antoine] Griezmann, which helps guarantee the future,” he added.
“Furthermore, Coutinho has a good reputation in England, whilst things haven’t gone well for him in Spain.
“I like seeing Riqui Puig given more prominence, the boy is showing his worth and he has a great personality. He reminds me of a young Xavi [Hernandez], who emerged when I was part of the squad.”