If things had turned out differently, Lionel Messi would have returned to Barcelona, and one of the most romantic football storylines would have ended happily.
As it turned out, Barcelona couldn’t provide the player or his family with the guarantees he sought, and rather than repeating what happened two years ago when the club dropped a bombshell at the last minute and told Messi he would have to leave rather than sign his new contract, he took matters into his own hands and signed with Inter Miami.
It’s a huge coup for David Beckham, especially because his old Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets has also recently joined the MLS outfit.
Much has been made of the fact that Apple and Adidas were engaged in the agreement to bring the Argentine World Cup winner to the United States, but super agent Jon Smith believes this is just the beginning of such innovative deals.
‘It was interesting timing for Messi’s transfer to Inter Miami because I recently attended a memorial service for my dear friend, Alberto Vermi, and in attendance was Messi’s business partner, someone in the corporate world who was one of the people behind this transaction,’ he wrote in his exclusive CaughtOffside column.
‘It’s fertile ground for clubs to consider establishing revenue alternatives through corporate sponsorship. Remember, they’ve been doing this in MLS for a few years now, so it’s just expanding on that idea. I believe it is a model that will be improved in the next years.’
Though supporters accustomed to a more traditional business procedure for recruiting players are unlikely to be impressed by the fact that corporations are muscling in for financial benefit, that is an outmoded point of view to have.
Football has been evolving for decades, and with elite players commanding multi-million pound contracts, a deal like Messi’s is likely to become the norm in the coming years, as Smith remarked.