Speaking to the BBC, a football finance expert claimed that only Manchester United and Real Madrid boast the financial revenues to make a deal work for Messi, with the likes of Chelsea unable to complete a deal without falling foul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.
Lionel Messi has a release clause of £196m in his Barcelona contract, and Manchester United would be able to pay this figure based on their latest revenue results without triggering FFP punishments.
However, they would still face considerable difficulty meeting his wage demands.
A football finance expert from Sheffield Hallam University, Rob Wilson, told the BBC: “With the revenue they generate and cash reserves, only United and Real Madrid could pay the fee.
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“With salary costs probably even they couldn’t stay within FFP.”
Seeing as Lionel Messi swapping Barcelona for Real Madrid is practically unthinkable, that means that Manchester United is really Messi’s only destination should he wish to leave the Nou Camp.
Under FFP rules, a club faces punishments from UEFA if their losses are more than £23.5m over three years.
With the revenue they generate and cash reserves, only United and Real Madrid could pay the fee - Rob Wilson
In theory, a club could make an offer that pays in yearly or monthly instalments, but as Barcelona stand to gain nothing from a deal of that structure, Wilson claims it’s basically a non-starter.
“Unless Messi absolutely wanted to get out of the club, why would Barcelona agree to that?
“Staggering the payments would certainly make it easier for Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG and Bayern Munich but Manchester United demanded the fee up front when they sold Cristiano Ronaldo and I strongly suspect it would be the same for Messi.”