The bomb exploded in the late afternoon. Leo Messi, the best player in the history of Barcelona and one of the few players in the last fifty years who can look stars like Pelé or Maradona in the face, has put on the table his departure from Barcelona, the club that saw him grow and succeed. It makes it sad, with the humiliating 2-8 win against Bayern Munich as the last memory and faced with the current board of directors, before which he appeals to a unilateral clause of contract termination that allowed him to leave the club for free by communicating his intention to leave until June 10. For now, it seems that Barcelona is not on the job, but the special circumstances of a season marked by the coronavirus and that ended in August may favor a lax interpretation of that date. This would allow him to free himself from his termination clause, estimated at 700 million euros, and choose his destination.
The question that now keeps the whole football world in suspense is where Messi will play next season. An image immediately came to the minds of all fans: that of the current owner of Inter Milan, billionaire Steven Zhang, sharing through his social networks an image with the silhouette of Messi projected on the Duomo of Milan. For Italians, it is a strategic bet. After reigning in Europe since the 1980s –no country accumulates more Champions of Champions between 1980 and 2000–, the arrival of the new century and the explosion of clubs conceived as huge companies capable of multiplying their income through advertising caught Serie A on a different footing. Now, they seek to make amends. To do this, the first step was to attract Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018, a movement that, according to the consulting firm Deloitte, increased the income of Juventus, the Portuguese destination club, by 65 million euros. The bianconeri They also went from a turnover by segments of 143 million euros to 186, and from raising just 51 million euros on match days to see how, every 15 days, the Juventus Stadium was filled to see the shots of their new forward, what that supposed a collection of 66 million euros. The 100 million euros that it cost to get him out of Real Madrid are now seen by the club as an example of a successful investment.
Now, from Inter Milan, a club also from the opulent north of Italy, they aspire to be able to face the Portuguese with Leo Messi in their ranks. To do this, they are willing to scratch their pockets. If Messi manages to free himself from his contract and leave the club for free, the Italian media count at more than 250 million euros –Distributed over three or four years of salary– the money that Inter is willing to put on the table to convince Rosario’s player that his project is serious.
All for a 33-year-old player whose best years are already behind him. The doubts that there may be from the point of view of sports performance do not exist, however, for experts in finance and business. “If Inter put that amount of money on the table, I have no doubt that they will get it back. It is a more or less safe investment. Messi can generate more ”, explains Sergi Vieta, professor of sport finance at the Johann Cruyff Institute. He shares an opinion with Patricia Viñals, partner of the sports marketing agency Vsponsor: “The value of what Messi can generate for any club in matters such as visits to the web, the increase in followers on social networks and the impact that this can have for the image of a brand is incalculable. You have to think that, in the end, the big leagues are moved by a dozen players, and Messi is at the top ”. For his destination club, Messi may be, experts conclude, the key to knocking down the door to Asia. This, without forgetting one thing: “Messi’s worst year is the best year of any other player,” sums up Aldric Lenoble, digital and sports marketing consultant at the Oink my God agency.