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Lionel Messi asked to be released from his contract. Now, they want to blame him for Barcelona’s financial situation.

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The leak was clearly motivated to paint a certain picture

FC Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Lionel Messi has an enormously huge contract, and we all know exactly how enormously huge because the exact details were leaked. Who exactly leaked it is not known, but since this is very sensitive and personal information, we know that at some point, a higher-up within FC Barcelona was involved - at the very least, inadvertently.

The motivation for the leak seems to be timed to explain away the crystallization in the public consciousness of the club’s weak, some would say critical, financial position.

While it’s true that Messi is the club’s biggest expenditure, he’s also obviously its biggest moneymaker. Absent him, the team is not exactly full of stars. Sergio Busquets might be a legend, but he’s far from marketable. Someone like Frenkie de Jong or even Ansu Fati or Pedri may one day become the face of the club, but that day is yet to come. There is Antoine Griezmann, but his struggles to fit in at Barcelona combined with rumors of an exit coming up every week aren’t exactly tying him long-term to the club.

Barcelona’s return on Messi is significant. Put another way, it’s not like Philippe Coutinho is the reason people care about the team. Sorry, but it’s the truth.

What’s especially ironic is that Messi asked to rescind the contract last summer. If Barcelona didn’t want to pay it, they didn’t have to. But instead it was the total opposite: they insisted Messi stay by any means necessary. They even went so far as to warn any club not to even try to negotiate for a transfer.

What’s clear to me is that certain people are trying to blame Messi for a problem they themselves created. If they didn’t want to pay Messi the salary, they didn’t have to. Any club that could afford it would have. And Messi himself tried to leave. They didn’t let him. The real problem is made up of, in part, huge expenses on transfers and salary that offered little return whether it be financially or on the pitch.

Fortunately, the fans are too smart for this sleight of hand.