Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) has turned the soccer world upside down. Prior to the 2021-22 season, Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi spent his entire career at FC Barcelona, while further cementing his case as the greatest soccer player to ever live. His dribbling skills, playmaking and left-foot shooting made him an icon in not just soccer, but of sports history.
Due to Barcelona’s wasteful spending habits, it could not afford to re-sign Messi when his contract expired this summer. The main culprit was paying over 300 million euros in transfer fees for players Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.
Then, for the first time, Messi was on the transfer market. He was immediately snatched by PSG, a club without a single Champions League Final appearance. They also play in Ligue 1, which according to UEFA, is no longer a top-five league.
Owned by a Qatar-based ownership group, Messi will earn 35 million euros per year upon joining the club. PSG has one of the highest wage bills in the world with nearly 4 million euros per week.
These expenditures beg the question: Why did Messi join a club that lacks history and is successful due to money?
The answer: Soccer has turned into what college football has become; players choosing where to go based on money and success. It is the equivalent of quarterbacks Bryce Young and D.J. Uiagalelei going from their high schools to Alabama and Clemson for fame, also to find their best avenue to the NFL.
Messi went to PSG because of the offered money, on top of playing with fellow superstar, Neymar.
Young and Uiagalelei could have stayed in Los Angeles and attended USC or UCLA, vaulting them to the top of college football with their five-star skill. Instead, they chose money, fame and future success with Alabama and Clemson.
Instead of returning to his native Argentina or another club in Spain, the country he’s lived in for over 20 years, Messi went to PSG, the poster child of cash-dominated clubs.
In 2021, sports have become more business and brand-oriented. Instead of accepting challenges, players take the avenues convenient in building their fame and earnings, which is why midfielder Jack Grealish left his boyhood club, Aston Villa, for Manchester City last summer.
Soccer is still a beautiful game, especially with moves such as Cristiano Ronaldo returning to Manchester United reminding the world of a LeBron James homecoming to the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, money has taken the emphasis in player’s careers — and that is the reality.