Argentina and PSG legend Lionel Messi has returned to Barcelona with his family this week. Messi, who left his childhood club last year, after FC Barcelona failed to resign the legendary footballer due to financial reason. On Wednesday, Messi along with his family members arrived in the city of Barcelona for a summer break.
The 34-year-old striker was mobbed for pictures at the Barcelona airport. Messi had to sign merchandised stuffs also as his wife Antonella and their three kids walked through the jubilant supporters. The footage of Messi being greeted at Barcelona airport went viral on social media. And fans could not help but express their joy on Twitter.
A Twitter user posted two photos of Messi at the airport. “From the arrival of the legend Messi and his family to Barcelona,” the Twitter post was captioned.
While another user wrote in the caption, “The King is back home. Messi is in Barcelona.” Another user shared photos of Messi being greeted by Barcelona fans at the airport. “PSG star Lionel Messi returns to Barcelona with family and is greeted by adoring fans at airport for his summer holidays. Messi’s family being warmly greeted in the Catalan capital as he touched down with his family on Wednesday,” read the caption of the post.
Meanwhile, Barcelona approved on Thursday the sale of a minority share of their licensing and merchandising division and the cession of up to 25% of income from their LaLiga TV rights in a bid to improve their financial situation.
The club board hopes this will enable them to finish the financial year without losses and increase their spending limit. Club president Joan Laporta said they expect to sell up to 49.9% of retail operation Barcelona Licensing and Merchandising (BLM) for 200-300 million euros and a minimum of 200 million each 10% of the LaLiga TV rights for 25 years.
The plan to sell BLM received 89.3% backing from 636 participants (only 14.2% of the club`s total delegates) in the referendum while the TV rights deal got 86.8% support. “When we arrived last year, we found ourselves in a very complicated financial situation. We couldn`t afford the payroll of May 2021. Investors were demanding 200 million euros that we did not have,” Laporta told the assembly.
“We believe that using club’s assets to create financial levers is the best way to bring back Barca to being competitive again.”
Laporta said Barcelona had opted out of the 1.994 billion euro investment from CVC Capital Partners with LaLiga in exchange for 11% of the TV rights over the next 50 years because they disagreed with the amount and length of the deal.
“We want to recover this asset in 25 years. The (CVC) operation that was presented was collective and Barca have their own special value,” he said. “I’m all in favour of helping out but at this moment we have to tidy our house first.”
Laporta, who presided over one of Barca`s most successful periods between 2003 and 2010, was elected last year for a second stint with the Catalan giants after the previous board resigned due to the club`s worsening finances and other controversies. He inherited a deep financial crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and, restricted by LaLiga’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, Barca were unable to re-sign club great Lionel Messi who left as a free agent for Paris St Germain last summer. Laporta said in August the club’s debts totalled 1.35 billion euros, 673 million of which is owed to banks.
(with Reuters inputs)