Report: Lionel Messi Leaving Barcelona; Latest Betting Odds, Market Moves & More

Report: Lionel Messi Leaving Barcelona; Latest Betting Odds, Market Moves & More article feature image

Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images. Pictured: Lionel Messi.

Despite assurances all summer from Barcelona that Lionel Messi would be returning to Camp Nou, it looks like the deal to retain its star free agent and global soccer icon has fallen apart.

Fabrizio Romano reported Thursday that Messi "will not continue at Barcelona."

“Despite having reached an agreement between Barça and Leo Messi and with the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, it will not be possible to formalize due to economic and structural obstacles (Spanish LaLiga regulations)," FC Barcelona said in a statement.

It's a hard pivot from Wednesday when Romano reported Messi would stay with the European giant and that a deal was "never in doubt."

Leo Messi’s staying at Barcelona and signing a new contract, it’s never been in doubt. Official announcement loading… finally expected soon. Could be matter of hours […but not today]. 🔴🔵🇦🇷 #FCB#Messi

New deal between Messi and Barça will be signed until June 2026.

— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 4, 2021

It's currently unclear whether the deal is still salvageable.

The latest news led DraftKings to move Barcelona's odds to win La Liga from +120 to +225 odds as of writing. Fellow La Liga powerhouse Real Madrid (+100) is now favored to win its first league title since its 2019 campaign.

Atlético Madrid is the third betting choice on the odds board, sitting just behind Barcelona at +275 odds.

The Spanish publication Marca reported Thursday that Barcelona was unwilling to accept a deal to sell 10% of La Liga's commercial business to a private equity firm called CVC Capital Partners because it would prevent them from joining a super league in the future.

The publication said that without the cash influx, Barcelona can't afford to pay Messi's wages and risks not being able to register some of their other higher-paid players for the upcoming season.

Essentially, if Barça continues to block the private equity investment, the club would be picking a hypothetical, abstract super-league variant over re-signing Messi, the publication reported.

Messi had demanded a transfer last August and informed the club in writing he would exercise a clause in his contract that allowed him to leave unilaterally.

He later reversed course last September amid a potential legal battle that Messi wanted no part of. After club president Josep Bartomeu — whom Messi loathed — resigned last October (along with the entire board of directors), it looked as if the road map for Messi to stay at Camp Nou was laid out.

Now, we might see Messi in a different kit for the first time in his professional career.

With Manchester City bogged down after spending $139 million on Jack Grealish — and with a potential nine-figure transfer for Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane in the works — it seems unlikely manager Pep Guardiola's side would be able to pursue the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

That leaves just Paris Saint-Germain, which could easily put out the best front three in Europe by pairing Messi with Neymar and Kylian Mbappé.

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Most importantly, the Ligue 1 juggernaut has more than enough requisite financial resources to do so. And, under new, relaxed financial fair play rules implemented as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the French side would be able to sign Messi well within legal parameters.

Still, Romano had reported in July that no talks had taken place between PSG and Messi at that point in the summer. PSG is currently the favorite (-125) at Betfair to have Messi on its roster after the summer window closes on Aug. 31. That line had been as high as even in the immediate aftermath of the news.

Barcelona's odds to retain Messi opened at +400 and moved to +200 on Thursday afternoon. Manchester City is third betting favorite at +600, though they opened tied with Barça at +400 odds.

Other odds include him at +1600 to go to any MLS club; +2000 for a move to Manchester United; and, +2500 to join his boyhood club Newells Old Boys in Argentina. He's also +2200 to join Chelsea, with the same odds to sign with Italian stalwart Juventus.

In Champions League futures wagering, Manchester City is now favored at +300 odds via DraftKings, followed by PSG (+350), Bayern Munich (+550), Liverpool (+750) and Chelsea at +800 odds.

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