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Lionel Messi to leave PSG: Where will Messi go next?

The Argentine has interest from the Saudi Pro League, Barcelona and Inter Miami, but where will he end up?

Lionel Messi.

Lionel Messi will leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract comes to an end later this month, bringing his two-year stint in the French capital to a close.

PSG manager Chrisophe Galtier announced the news, saying: “I had a privilege of coaching the best player in the history of soccer. Saturday will be Leo’s last match at the Parc des Princes against Clermont.”

Messi joined the club in the summer of 2021 after being forced out of Barcelona due to the club’s financial issues. Barca were unable to renew his contract due to LaLiga regulations and PSG were one of few places willing to satisfy his hefty salary demands.

The Argentine achieved his career-long dream of winning the World Cup during his time in Paris but he was never at his scintillating best in Ligue 1. Now, in the twilight of his career, Messi may have just one move left. Where will it take him?

Will Lionel Messi sign for Al-Hilal?

For close to a decade Messi and perennial rival Cristiano Ronaldo dominated not only LaLiga but the entire world of football. Two superstars who rank amongst the greatest of all time, they played out some of the most fiercely-contested El Clasico fixtures of all time while playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Now, with Ronaldo playing for Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr, there is a chance for them to rekindle that rivalry.

Messi has reportedly been offered an astonishing billion-dollar contract to move to the Saudi top flight. Reports suggest that Messi could sign a two-year deal worth $1.1 billion to play for Al-Hilal, who were previously in the running to sign Ronaldo.

That is a truly astonishing fee for his services, but Messi may have been discouraged by the experience of Ronaldo since moving to the Saudi Pro League just six months ago. Al-Nassr missed out on the league title and the Portuguese superstar has cut a frustrated figure on the pitch, and is reportedly considering a move already.

Cristiano Ronaldo has cut a frustrated figure during his first season in Saudi Arabia.
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Cristiano Ronaldo has cut a frustrated figure during his first season in Saudi Arabia.-AFP

Will Lionel Messi return to Barcelona?

After a two-decade association with Barcelona, with whom he cemented his place among the greats of the game, Messi’s departure from the club was a painful watch. Forced to leave due to financial mismanagement, Messi said goodbye to the club in a small, socially-distanced press conference during which he sobbed uncontrollably.

For the football purists, a return to Barcelona would represent a chance for Messi to finish in style at the club that he holds closest to his heart.

But despite clear interest from the club and former teammate Xavi Hernandez, now Barcelona head coach, a return looks difficult. Barca may have returned to the top of LaLiga this season but they remain in a precarious position. Not only could they not offer Messi a contract anywhere near his offer from Saudi, they may not be able to offer him a contract at all.

Lionel Messi's tearful goodbye in 2021.
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Lionel Messi's tearful goodbye in 2021.PAU BARRENAAFP

At the moment the financial restrictions placed on the club mean that they have been unable to sign youth team graduate Gavi to anew, comparatively modest first team contract. However Barca coach Xavi Hernandez has made no secret of his desire to bring Messi back to the club.

“With the relationship I have with [Messi], I am very clear: he has the door is open here,” Xavi said recently. “If he wants to come, I have no doubt as a manager, none.”

Will Messi move to MLS to play for Inter Miami?

With David Beckham as president and co-owner, MLS side Inter Miami are not short on a bit of stardust. However the chance to bring one of the greatest players of all time to the league is something that the club would dearly love to do.

Barcelona-focused sports newspaper SPORT report that Inter Miami have approached Messi’s entourage with a lucrative four-year deal that promises other top signings to strengthen their sporting offer. A move to MLS may suit Messi at this point in the career, offering the chance to play in a competitive league that would not be too physically demanding.

Messi is eager to continue with the Argentina national team and a move away from the strain of top-level European football would likely reduce the strain on his body. However the prospective deal offers neither the lucrative financial benefits of the Saudi move or the sentimental value of a return to Barcelona.

The 35-year-old will play his last game in France this weekend. After that, we may get a better idea of his next destination.