Can you imagine Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona for Chelsea, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich? Adidas tried to make that unlikely scenario a reality last summer.
Adidas was willing to pay half of Messi’s £210 million ($337 million) buyout fee and help give him a raise in an effort to place him on one of the elite European soccer clubs it sponsors, but Messi refused to consider the offer, the Mail reports.
“But according to Mundo Deportivo, Adidas saw the opportunity to prise him away from Barca — and effectively from Nike who sponsor the Catalan giants — and move him to one of their three main European clubs: Chelsea, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid.
“The pro-Barcelona daily says that Messi’s representatives were made aware of Adidas’ proposal and that they then informed the club, who were also told Messi had no intention of leaving the club.”
Messi, 26, has been a Barcelona player since age 13 and is synonymous with the most glorious period in the club’s storied history. He moved from his native Argentina as a youngster and progressed through the club’s youth system before taking the soccer world by storm. Messi’s goal-scoring feats have helped him win the last four FIFA Ballon d’Or awards, which recognize him as the world’s best player.
In February, Messi signed a new contract, which ties him to Barcelona until after the 2017-18 season. The deal included the astronomical buyout fee, which was supposed to discourage any club from even thinking about signing the superstar. Sponsor involvement seems to have maid a mockery of those intentions.
If the Mundo Deportivo report is true, Adidas was willing to pay £105 million ($168 million), leaving the willing club to pay the rest of the fee. Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are among Europe’s richest clubs and could have conceivably raised such transfer funds through player sales and other means.
But Adidas’ idea always seemed to be a losing proposition. When Messi signed his new contract he vowed never to play for another European club.
“I said it before — in Europe I’d like to end my career at Barca,” Messia said. “I wouldn’t consider moving to another European club. “With that said, I’m not ruling out ending my playing career in Argentina.”
It looks like he meant what he said.
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