Inside Spain: The winners and the losers of the Lionel Messi saga, Real Madrid’s accidental spending spree

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Inside Spain is a weekly instalment brought to you by Football España, providing an insight into all of the major stories coming out of the rich and intense climes of La Liga and beyond.

Where else to start than with Lionel Messi? The great Argentine was going to Saudi Arabia, and then to Barcelona, but finally ended up in the place he was touted to finish his career several years ago – Miami.

Barcelona transfer expert Gerard Romero finished the previous week 80% confident that Messi would come back to Barcelona, and by Tuesday night, he had dropped those chances to 1%. And that is despite the fact Jorge Messi, his father and agent, told the press on Monday that not only was he optimistic about a deal, but that was his son’s priority. What happened?

The central factor here is timing. If Barcelona wanted this deal to happen, then they needed to be able to do the deal this week. Still needing to sell players in order to guarantee they could register him, they needed more time to sort their affairs out. Messi had no intention of dragging out his decision in the same way as happened two years ago – when he was left at the altar. Once Messi’s confidence started waning in Barcelona, then it was between Inter Miami and Saudi Arabia. Messi wouldn’t move his family there ‘even for a joke’ if you believe Cadena SER, and thus it was a pretty simple call, if turning down an extra €200m or so can ever be.

Jorge has always been sceptical. Not trusting Barcelona after last time, whatever he says publicly, it seems as if he was least keen on a return to Barcelona. President Joan Laporta, after spending so much time creating buzz about the move, courting Messi, and driving Messi as the major attraction for fans next season, looks a little less smart. And still less so after releasing a petty statement once Messi announced his decision. Inter Miami, Major League Soccer and David Beckham are all quite obviously winners in this, just as Saudi Arabia are losers. The Kingdom made him their tourism ambassador, showed him all the best bits of the country, offered to pay him the budget of a small country, and still he didn’t want to live there…

Real Madrid meanwhile are dealing with the exit of Karim Benzema, who apparently is more attracted by life in the Gulf, which came as a surprise not just to the rest of the world, but also to them. Jude Bellingham has agreed to join Real Madrid, even if it may cost him up to €30m, and he was slated to be the Galactico signing of the summer. Yet the main problem is now the frontline, with only Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes under contract for next season, following the departures of Mariano Diaz, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard too.

Tottenham Hotspur are likely to be the victim of their panic. Harry Kane is the only forward that compares to Benzema, outside of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland. It will be a case of Daniel and Goliath, as Los Blancos look to apply as much pressure as possible on Spurs and Daniel Levy to get a deal done for Kane.

Finally, winning the Europa League doesn’t solve all of your problems. Sevilla might have a lot more money to play with this summer, but not the right person playing with it. Legendary Sporting Director Monchi has reportedly asked to leave the club, citing exhaustion, while the press cite a loss of power within the club. Sevilla remain suspicious though, suspecting a Premier League side behind Monchi’s desire to leave, and are asking for his release clause to let him out. A relationship that has brought them all seven of their Europa Leagues, looks as if it may have a sour ending.


More Stories Aston Villa FC Borussia Dortmund FC Barcelona Harry Kane Inside Spain Inter Miami Jude Bellingham Karim Benzema Lionel Messi Monchi Real Madrid CF Sevilla FC Tottenham FC