No one in world soccer expected to see a divorce between Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona. Even when the Argentine star almost forced his way out in 2020, the fact that he ended up staying seemed to suggest that they'd never take separate ways.
But only a year later, in a shocking turn of events, it happened. Messi entered the summer of 2021 as a free agent, Barcelona were later unable to bring him back for salary cap reasons, and that was it. After more than two decades together, their story was over. And nothing has been the same for them since then.
While the Catalans got off to a terrible start to their first season since Leo left, the Rosario-born winger struggled to impress at Paris Saint-Germain. However, both would eventually get back on track. Barca now seem to be in the right direction under Xavi. In fact, they have four players who are worth more than Messi.
Four Barcelona players worth more than Lionel Messi
According to Transfermarkt, Lionel Messi's market value today is $55 million. Following a complicated first season in France and having turned 35 a few weeks ago, it's normal that his price has dropped.
Right now, Barcelona have at least four more valuable players in their roster. Though the Cules have a mountain to climb to be the European heavyweight they once were, they have a number of youngsters with a bright future.
19-year-old wonderkid Pedri is by far the most valuable player at the Camp Nou right now, as he's worth $88 million. The Spanish prospect is followed by Frenkie de Jong, Ansu Fati, and Gavi ($66 million.) Uruguayan center-back Ronald Araujo has the same market value than Messi but it's likely to increase in the near future as he's just 23.
This doesn't mean that Barcelona are better off without Messi nor anything like that, but it does help to debunk the myth that the Cules have no future. There will never be another Messi at the Camp Nou, but life goes on and the Catalans may have what's necessary to move on.
As for Messi, to see his market value drop is an inevitable consequence of aging. Even so, it looks like Father Time is only catching up with him on paper, because even at 35, Messi still has a lot left in his tank.