He was not always the most vocal, but players felt his presence, and there was an aura around him that only the best athletes have.
“It was a huge blow for everyone,” a source on the coaching staff told ESPN of those first few days following Messi’s departure. “The first session without him was like a funeral. It was like the day after it was revealed Guardiola was not going to stay on as coach [in 2012]. There was silence, no joking around. People didn’t believe what was happening.”
However, some sources have also spoken of how training was often set to Messi’s rhythm. Without him, it was a little bit like starting afresh.
“Things improved as the days passed, and the feeling was that the atmosphere of recent years relaxed a bit,” the coach continued. “You started to see players that hardly spoke when Messi was present start to step forward, and the team became a group.
Those that did attend games quickly moved on from Messi, channelling all their support into backing Xavi once he replaced Koeman.
“In the games immediately after his departure, Messi’s name was sung in the 10th minute [his shirt number] at Camp Nou, but that soon stopped,” another dressing room source said. “It was strange given that Messi’s the best player in the club’s history. People can’t have forgotten him so quickly.”
Off the pitch, Barca told ESPN it is “hard to gauge” the impact of Messi’s move to PSG until the official accounts for last season are released later this year, though there are clues. Barca’s new sponsorship deal with Spotify — which includes naming rights to the stadium, men’s and women’s kits, and training shirts — is worth roughly the same as the previous deal agreed with Rakuten in 2017 when Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar were all at the club.
He looked sharper and fitter already in Sunday’s Trophee des Champions against Nantes, even scoring his first goal of the season with a great finish as PSG ran out 4-0 winners without Mbappe in the lineup.
Sources also told ESPN that Messi gets on with the new coach, Christophe Galtier, who replaced Pochettino this summer, and the player feels like he fits perfectly in the new 3-4-2-1 formation. He is much more integrated in the dressing room: more focused, more relaxed and more motivated. His family is happier in Paris, and he has his eyes on a fifth Champions League trophy — which would be PSG’s first.
Soccer superstar messi partly paida
And, just when they appeared to have moved on, Barcelona have positioned themselves in the queue to sign him, even though he will be 36 when his PSG deal expires.
Despite the January signings of Torres and Aubameyang, and the summer arrivals of Lewandowski, Raphinha and more, Laporta spent Barca’s recent tour of the United States championing a possible return for Messi.
“I would hope that the Messi chapter isn’t over,” he told ESPN in Las Vegas. “I think it’s our responsibility to try to (…) find a moment to fix that chapter, which is still open and hasn’t closed, so it turns out like it should have, and that it has a more beautiful ending.”
Laporta has always left the door open for Messi, but his suggestion before was always in a non-playing role. This time, he’s hinted it’s possible while he is still playing.
Soccer superstar messi partly paidi
He was not ready when he arrived, and had to play catch up with his fitness for most of the season. He also contracted COVID-19 in the winter and struggled to shake it off.
It was a new dressing room, too. There were familiar faces and friends in the form of Neymar, Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria, but he was not the boss anymore.
Some language barriers proved to be an issue, and he stayed close to Di Maria and Paredes. On top of that, his relationship with Mauricio Pochettino was not great. They didn’t always see eye to eye as both tried to make the best of their situation, with Messi notably unhappy with being substituted before the end of a game against Lyon.
Soccer superstar messi partly paidia
The timing of Laporta’s offensive is unusual in that sense. With Xavi in charge and a stellar squad constructed this summer, plus exciting youngsters emerging in Pedri, Gavi and Ansu Fati, the page finally seemed to be turning. How would a 36-year-old Messi fit back in?
Sources close to Messi will not engage with that idea for now.
They insist that at this stage of his career, he is thinking purely short-term. The World Cup is a big motivator for him right now, as is winning the Champions League with PSG.
He stayed when he wanted to go and he left when he wanted to stay.”
— Sam Marsden
playLaporta wants a ‘beautiful ending’ for Messi at Barcelona
President Joan Laporta discusses Lionel Messi’s shock exit from Barcelona one year on.
Why Messi left Barcelona
Messi wanted to leave in 2020 because of what he branded “lies” from Bartomeu and the failure to build a team around him that was capable of winning trophies. Barca had just lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League in 2020, but Messi left the following year because of the debts which were run up by the same board that had refused his request to depart.
That was the situation Laporta inherited. Barca had been overspending even prior to Neymar’s world-record €222 million exit to PSG in 2017.
That was when it became clear things were complicated.
“As the hours passed, everything went pear-shaped until the point that the vice-president, Rafa Yuste, and Laporta had a series of calls with Jorge, Messi’s dad and agent. Those conversations were intense — the tone of them didn’t go down well with anyone. When the expedition returned to Barcelona from Salzburg, it was all over.
At around 6 p.m. through a statement from the club on Aug. 5, the chapter closed on the greatest player in Barca’s history.”
Messi’s sudden departure was all the more remarkable given he’d already agreed to terms on a new contract with a 50% pay cut to help Barca economically, given that his previous deal had actually expired on June 30. On Aug.
And finally, on social media, Messi’s arrival proved even more remarkable, with the club amassing an extra 15 million followers across all platforms in the aftermath.
On the pitch, the difference was not so evident, though. Messi struggled to adapt to his new life, new city, new culture and all the changes that came with it. His three sons were not happy at first and his wife, Antonella, missed Barcelona.
Even Hulk, the family’s French mastiff dog, was sad. There was so much to absorb, from Paris’ crazy traffic to finding a new school for the boys, a new house and a new routine.
Then there was the football. Messi didn’t have the best preseason preparations due to his participation in the Copa America — where Messi and Argentina beat Brazil in the final — and because of everything that happened with Barcelona.
Lionel%20Messi%27s%20Barcelona%20exit,%20one%20year%20later%3A%20The%20impact%20of%20superstar%27s%20move%20to%20PSG%20on%20both%20clubs,%20and%20on%20him” data-type=”video” data-behavior=”sticky_social” data-src=”https://www.espn.com/soccer/barcelona-espbarcelona/story/4713258/lionel-messis-barcelona-exitone-year-later-the-impact-of-superstars-move-to-psg-on-both-clubsand-on-him”
As United States international Brenden Aaronson struck a surprise winner for FC Salzburg in a friendly against Barcelona in Austria on Aug. 4, 2021, Barca president Joan Laporta’s activity on his phone alerted the other members of the club’s travelling delegation to an issue.
Sources said they are not only relying on former Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski (238 goals in eight Bundesliga seasons) to replace Messi’s goals, they also need the Poland international striker to help sell shirts and add appeal for potential future sponsorship deals. Playmaker Raphinha and defender Kounde are more strategic signings, but Barca believe both players are also valuable in a marketing sense long-term. Immediate success on the pitch would speed up that process.
— Sam Marsden
playLaurens: Things will get better for Messi at PSG next season
Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens give their take on Lionel Messi after the forward has endured a difficult first season in Paris.
The impact on Paris Saint-Germain
“We know the club has moved to the next level, but we can’t really quantify the impact Messi is having on the club.
It will be a few more years until we will really understand how massive this is.”
This is how a source at PSG summarises the Messi era in Paris so far. It’s true that you only really notice the difference when these superstars leave. That said, the difference was obvious from the first day Messi arrived in the French capital.
It felt like a city-wide party and, regardless of how it ends, it will remain the biggest transfer in French football history. Not only did it shake up the league, but it changed everything.
The first significant consequence is financial. As PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi, former sporting director Leonardo and general manager Jean-Claude Blanc were finalising the signing, big brands from around the world were already calling the club’s marketing department to work with the Ligue 1 side and associate their brands with Messi’s new team.