Football dominated both the front and back pages of newspapers in Argentina for the second time in a month, as a stunned country digested the news that Lionel Messi was leaving Barcelona.
A month after leading Argentina to their first major championship in 28 years, Messi was once again the centre of attention when Barcelona announced that he would terminate his 18-year association with the club and not sign a new playing deal.
Following the death of Diego Maradona last year, Messi has become the most well-known figure in Argentine sport and a category unto himself in the country’s media.
Domestic leagues, the national team, rugby, and other sports all feature sections on most news sites. Because of the amount of news that Messi produces, most have one dedicated to him.
As a result, the surprise news of his departure from Barcelona dominated the headlines in his native country, with several publications live tweeting the news and developments.
On their main page, broadcaster TyC Sports featured 14 Messi-related articles, while La Nacion and sports publication Ole each had seven.
Television and radio stations speculated on the reasons for the breakup and where he could go next. Some even had reporters broadcasting live from the Nou Camp stadium in Barcelona.
Messi was anticipated to sign a contract to keep him at the club he joined when he was 13 years old, but the Catalan giants were unable to reorganise their finances and stay inside La Liga’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, despite Messi reportedly accepting a lower pay.
Barcelona, which has a total debt of more than 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion), will not be granted any leeway when it comes to following the league’s stringent financial management regulations, according to La Liga president Javier Tebas.
La Liga agreed in principle to sell 10% of a newly created company holding much of its operations to private equity firm CVC Capital Partners for 2.7 billion euros the day before Messi’s departure.
Apart from the announcement of Messi’s leaving, most of Thursday’s coverage focused on memes, statistics, and reviews of Messi’s illustrious career.
Some people attempted to explain the CVC agreement and the FFP rules.
Others seemed to find it difficult to believe. ‘What if Messi remains at Barcelona?’ questioned La Nacion.