Here we are; another season, another bevy of rumors about the potential departures of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo from their respective football clubs. Every year seems to bring chatter that Spain's biggest soccer stars are about to hit the road and head elsewhere for the soccer seasons that remain in their careers. Amid the mounting speculation this season we imagine the future of La Liga without Messi or Ronaldo.

Up in the Air

Last season, the rumors were loudest about Cristiano Ronaldo, who was supposedly upset about Real Madrid's decision to sack Carlo Ancelotti and hire Rafael Benitez instead. Ronaldo ultimately signed a new contract, though, potentially tying himself to the Vikings until 2018. However, sources are currently saying that Real Madrid are likely to sell either Ronaldo or teammate Gareth Bale this coming summer, which means that a move away from the La Liga is not off the table for Ronaldo.

Similarly up in the air is the future of Lionel Messi. The Argentine star has been injured for much of the 2015 2016 campaign but is obviously still valued at Camp Nou, having helped FC Barcelona win the treble last season. He is a top contender for this year's Ballon d'Or award and is arguably still playing at the peak of his powers. However, repeated tax fraud allegations from the Spanish government have reportedly frustrated Leo to the point that he would consider a move away from Barcelona if the right salary offer came along.

An Impressive Legacy

Bottom line, plenty of soccer pundits have speculated about the possibility of Messi and Ronaldo ending
their careers in Spain, at the same clubs where they've tallied their most impressive achievements. But with numerous clubs supposedly in the running to sign the two football celebrities-most currently, rumors are pointing toward Arsenal for Messi and Paris Saint Germain for Ronaldo-fans need to face the possibility that, as soon as next fall, we could be watching a La Liga season without either of them.

On first blush, it's difficult to imagine what the La Liga would even look like without Messi and Ronaldo. The two have enjoyed such a fierce (but respectful) rivalry with one another for so many years. Lionel is the all-time top scorer in the La Liga, with 289 goals in 321 appearances. Ronaldo is fourth, with 233 goals in 211 appearances. By the end of the season, the two players will likely be first and second on the scorers chart.

Just as impressive, Messi and Ronaldo have owned the last six years of La Liga headlines. In each of the last two seasons, Ronaldo has been La Liga's top scorer. In the two seasons prior to that, it was Messi. In 2010 2011, it was Cristiano. In 2009 2010, it was Leo. The 2008 2009 season was the last time a player other than Messi or Ronaldo was the La Liga's most successful offensive player.

For the past seven years, meanwhile, Leo and Cristiano have traded the Ballon d'Or award back and forth. The English Premier League might still be the most competitive league in professional football, but Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have made the La Liga the most exciting to follow.

La Liga without Its Best Players

And yet, despite all of these stunning accomplishments, the world will keep spinning in the Spanish La
Liga after Leo and Cristiano move on. Whether the two stars leave this summer or some time further off in the future, the division will adapt to produce new stars and new forms of excitement.

That cyclical nature of the football world has been evidenced by how Barcelona have performed without Messi for much of this fall. Though they stumbled a bit shortly after Leo's injury, Barca quickly rallied, with Neymar and Luis Suarez turning from supporting players into dynamic leaders in his absence. Manager Luis Enrique has even gone on record to say that, while his soccer team is better with Messi in the lineup, they've also shown that they can cope and succeed without him.