Where could Messi go next?
The Argentine soccer superstar is leaving Barcelona after 17 years but there are few who could afford a player of his talent.
Blaming "financial and structural obstacles," a thinly-veiled reference to La Liga regulations, the Catalan club confirmed Lionel Messi's departure from the Blaugrana. The news comes despite an agreement between both parties for a new five-year deal back in July. Barcelona needed to massively cut their wage budget down to afford him, but have yet to offload some big earners nor raise any funds from player sales.
There are only a handful of clubs worldwide that can afford the demands of the player, some of them being Barça's big rivals for the Champions League.
Staying in Europe
The bookies favourite, PSG have the financial clout to afford a player of Messi's stature. The French club is desperate to win the Champions League and with Messi they may have enough firepower to do it. It would be a fearsome front three for PSG next season; Neymar, Mbappe and Messi. Neymar and Messi remain good friends from when they both played for Barcelona and just days ago Messi was seen on holiday with members of the PSG team. The move feels ideal, and the most likely to happen, especially after the club made contact with the player when his original deal ended at the end of June.
Pep Guardiola was the coach of Messi at Barcelona during the most successful spell of his career and is a long-time admirer of the player. City are financially the strongest team in the English Premier League and it feels like they would be the only ones who could afford him. Manchester United have spent big this summer, and Chelsea are preparing a $130 million bid for Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku.
But Man City have spent, and are planning to spend, big money on players this summer too. Jack Grealish arrived for $139 million, and they are also heavily linked with England Captain Harry Kane. The Spurs forward is expected to cost upwards of $200 million for an English club, and if this deal were to go through, it is unlikely there would be enough funds for Messi remaining.
But if any club in England can make the move happen, it would be City.
An MLS club
Messi has already been courted by the American league with Inter Miami co-owner Jorge Mas saying he was "optimistic" that Messi would one day play in the league. There are currently no signs that Messi is prepared to go to America at this stage of his career and he's not showing any signs of slowing down yet, scoring 46 goals in 60 appearances in all competitions during the 2021/21 season. There were rumours that he would go to the MLS after the end of the five-year deal that was negotiated with Barça but those plans will be on hold.
Newell's Old Boys
A return to his boyhood club at this stage of his career is almost unthinkable, but that hasn't stopped the Argentine club from 'attempting' to sign him. They cheekily enquired to Barcelona about signing Messi when his contract expired.
Messi played for the Old Boys' youth teams before his move to Barcelona in 2001 and briefly wore a Newell's shirt in honour of Diego Maradona who briefly played at the club in the 1993/4 season.
Or a late twist...
Despite the statement, it cannot be ruled out that Messi will eventually resign for Barcelona. While seemingly unlikely from today's news, the football world is moving quickly, especially in relation to La Liga and Barcelona's role within it.
Remember, Barcelona are still united with Real Madrid and Juventus in bringing about the European Super league and break away from La Liga. If this were to materialise, the club would have the funds to keep Messi and wouldn't be entangled by La Liga rules. The new CVC investment into La Liga of around $3 billion must also be taken into consideration. Despite being denounced by Barcelona, a new working of finances in the Spanish league could open the door to Messi once again.
Eyes will be firmly on Barcelona president Joan Laporta's press conference tomorrow.
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