Kolkata, Sep 7: LaLiga will not suffer once Lionel Messi’s glorious days at Spanish giants FC Barcelona are over, a key LaLiga official has said.
Argentine superstar Messi Messi ended speculation last week about his future at the Catalan giants by announcing that he would stay for another season, though reluctantly, rather than fight his club in a court of law.
“We always work long term. Leo Messi is the best player in the world and probably in history he will be among top four and five. But these are players approaching the end of their careers,” Jose Antonio Cachaza, Managing Director, LaLiga India, said during a virtual media interaction from Madrid.
“Players come and go, sadly. Clubs stay, leagues stay. We are starting the 90th season of LaLiga. Real Madrid and Barcelona are clubs with over 100 years of history. We will always remember players like Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] who gave us one of the most exciting competitions ever in team sport. Nothing compares what these two guys gave LaLiga. But life will continue and we are planning for the future, knowing that these players will be replaced by other great players,” he said.
Messi, 33, had informed Barcelona that he wanted to leave the club on a free transfer, according to a clause in the contract.
Both Barcelona and LaLiga stood firm, saying that Messi’s contract with the club was valid and any club interested in his services would have to pay the €700m release clause in its entirety.
Messi then decided to stay on for the next 10 months, but took a swipe at the club’s hierarchy.
“Messi is a Barcelona player first. LaLiga just gave the legal answer. Officially, we said about Messi’s contract and the way the crisis was resolved proves that we were right. To look in a selfish way, that got us all over the global news for a week.”
“It’s always sad when you lose the best player in the world. When Cristiano left, in terms of competition it was a relevant loss,” Cachaza said.
“But in terms of the growth of the business and audience it had no impact. We hope that when Leo Messi football days of LaLiga end, the impact will be not.
“We know the presence of Messi made Barca the most watched European teams. Will Messi leaving have an impact? Probably, yes. But we hope that it is an impact that will be overcome easily and the reach of LaLiga will continue to grow.”
The 2020-21 LaLiga season will start on September 11 with a game between Granada and Athletic Club. The first El Clasico of the season between Barcelona and Real Madrid will be played on October 25, followed by the return leg on April 11. The season will start in empty stadiums due to the coronavirus crisis and Cachaza said they are hopeful of welcoming back fans as early as possible. (IANS)