Messi (L) and Mbappé (R). SUR
Number crunching

Number crunching

Barcelona are trying to work out a way to get Messi home for his autumn days while Real Madrid would love to welcome Mbappé into their fold

Rob Palmer commentator, ESPN

Friday, 14 April 2023, 13:24

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In one corner, the great Lionel Messi back in a Barcelona shirt; in the other, Kylian Mbappé and Jude Bellingham are sporting the all-white of Real Madrid.

If the fevered speculation is accurate, next season could be one of the most exciting in the history of Spanish football.

It's all a distinct possibility, rather than a probability - but we can dare to dream.

Within the walls of FC Barcelona, they are crunching numbers and trying to work out a way to weave around the Financial Fair Play restrictions like Messi weaves around defenders. The club's greatest ever player ends his contract with PSG in the summer and he'd welcome a return to his footballing home for his autumn days.

For the past two home games, the fans have chanted his name in the tenth minute as they dream of re-signing their "Number 10". Even coach Xavi Hernández has entered the conversation: "The fact that he could come back to the club generates a great deal of excitement. Hopefully, we'll see him at his home again. It's the club of his life... Of course, there is this illusion with a possible "Last Dance', like Michael Jordan's. It's nice."

Maybe that's the answer: Get some Hollywood production company to pay the wages that Barça don't seem to be able to afford?

Meanwhile, the world's highest-paid footballer is stalling on triggering the optional year in the French capital. Kylian Mbappé is very upset that Paris Saint Germain have used his image in a season ticket campaign.

He took to Instagram to make his point: "At no time was I informed of the content of the interview with my interlocutor. It looked like a basic interview for a marketing day. I disagree with this posted video. That's why I fight for individual image rights. PSG is a big club and a big family club, but it is certainly not Kylian Saint-Germain."

There we go. He loves PSG but not enough to lend his support to selling tickets to pay towards his wages.

Real Madrid could promise not to use his image in a season ticket campaign. If he signed, they would not need a campaign, every ticket would be snapped up well in advance and shirt sales would go through the roof. In fact, they'd pay for the new multi-million-euro retractable roof!

It's no secret that they've kept a fund just in case he does become available. He is the galáctico the president desires.

Jude Bellingham provides a dilemma. I'd argue that the Bernabeu is his preferred destination when he moves on from Dortmund. He'd fit straight into the team and would be the ideal replacement for Luka Modrić.

Liverpool appear to have realised that they can't invest all their funds into one player when they need a major overhaul. Real Madrid can afford Bellingham but I doubt that their riches would allow for the signing of Mbappé plus Bellingham. There may be a way that the fees can be spread over several years.

So, in conclusion, the pipedream of Messi, Mbappe and Bellingham becoming the marquee names in La Liga comes down to the abilities of the accountants. Please get crunching those numbers to give the fans a thrill.

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