What Next For Lionel Messi?
On the 25th of August 2020, Lionel Messi stunned the football world when he sent a Burofax to Barcelona expressing his desire to end his 20-years association with the Catalan club. Messi’s fax came in the aftermath of Barcelona’s 8-2 humiliating defeat to Bayern Munich — a result which saw the club sack manager, Quique Setien, and sporting director, Eric Abidal. The Blaugranas are currently in a total mess on and off the pitch.
Messi has a €700 million (£630m) release clause in his current contract — which expires in 2021 — but his representatives are hopeful of activating another clause in the contract, which allows the Argentine to terminate the contract and walk away for free.
In this piece, TOP SOCCER BLOG looks at the likely destinations or decisions of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
If Messi will leave Barca, Man City are the clear favourites to sign him. Firstly, only a few clubs in the world can afford him, and City are among those clubs due to their financial might. Despite all the billions invested in the club so far, City has never won the UEFA Champions League, and signing Messi will significantly boost their chances of winning the much-coveted trophy.
Another factor in Man City’s favour is the presence of Pep Guardiola and Sergio Aguero at the club. Messi played his best football under Guardiola (who knows how to play to the Argentine’s strength) at Barcelona while Aguero is his childhood friend.
Another club who have the financial ability to pull off such a transfer is Paris Saint-Germain. The French club, like Man City, are also backed by oil-rich Arab billionaires. They have invested tremendously in the club since taking over by pulling out world-class transfers. But, again, like Man City, have been unable to win the UEFA Champions League. Bringing Messi to the French capital will aid PSG’s cause in becoming European champions and dominating world football.
The presence of star performers like Kylian Mbappe, Neymar (Messi’s friend since their days together at Barca), and Di Maria (his compatriot) in their squad will help the club in bringing the Argentine on board.
Inter have never hidden their desire to lure Messi to San Siro. The Nerrazurri have been regularly linked with Messi over the years, with former Inter director Massimo Mirabelli, stating that “Messi is more than a dream for Inter.
Inter’s Chinese owners are ambitious and are willing to spend in order to bring the club back to its glory days, but it remains to be seen whether they have the financial strength to pull off such a transfer like that of Messi.
Juventus have never hidden their desire to conquer Europe and the rest of the world and are ready to give whatever it takes to realise that dream. Their signing of Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018 is a statement of intent in that direction and don’t rule out The Old Lady from signing Messi… and uniting him with Ronaldo!
Football lovers have always dreamed of seeing Messi and Ronaldo playing together in the same team, and Juventus can make those dreams a reality.
Manchester United are also one of the clubs who have the capability of signing Messi due to their size, popularity, history, and financial strength. But it is very unlikely that the attacker will join the Red Devils because of their struggles in recent years, which means Messi might find himself in the same mess he is fleeing from at Barcelona!
Chelsea are one of just four clubs (alongside Barcelona, Man City, and Newell’s Old Boys) that Messi follows on Instagram.
Backed by their owner, Roman Abramovich, Chelsea are on a spending spree in the current transfer window after missing out in the last two windows due to the FIFA transfer ban. The Blues have already signed Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Thiago Silva, and Malang Sarr in the current transfer window and are not stopping at that. Signing Messi will go a long way in helping Chelsea in their bid to return back to English football summit and become a force to reckon with in Europe once again. The Argentine’s experience will be really valuable in moving Frank Lampard’s young squad forward.
Newly crowned European champions, Bayern Munich, are another club Messi can join. Bayern have a mixture of experience and young blood in their squad, and Messi will seamlessly slot in there, but the Bundesliga champions are not known for pulling off huge transfers and are unlikely to sign him.
Real Madrid have the ability to pull off such a transfer as the La Liga champions have a reputation of signing “Galacticos” and have been looking for another one since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo. But Messi’s case is extremely complicated has he plays for their eternal rivals, Barcelona. Few players like Ronaldo de Lima, Luis Figo, Michael Laudrup, and Luis Enrique have represented both clubs, but its almost impossible that Messi will join this list as it will tarnish his legacy at Barcelona.
Liverpool are back to the pinnacle of world football after a long time in the wilderness. The club recently won the Premier League (30 years after their last league title), adding it to the Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and Champions league won earlier. They also have a squad full of world-class talents. Although Liverpool needs someone that will add creativity to their midfield, it is unlikely that it will be Messi. The Merseyside club’s owners are frugal and cautious when it comes to transfers and are not known for gambling in this aspect. Manager Jurgen Klopp recently said that there is “no chance” of Liverpool signing Messi.
Although this seems improbable, should Messi be desperate to force his way out Barcelona, he might move to a Major League Soccer (MLS) or Chinese club who will be able to afford his transfer should European clubs fail to. Many of the top MLS clubs might be seeking to lure him, in order to boost their brand.
NEWELL’S OLD BOYS
A return to his boyhood club, Newell’s Old Boys in Rosario, Argentina, is also likely should Messi leave Barca on a free. Fans of his boyhood club recently held a parade in Rosario, urging him to come back home.
Messi’s decision to demand an exit from Barcelona shocked the world; the Argentine star can send another shockwave around the planet once more by announcing his retirement should he fail to reach a compromise with Barca. Although at 33 years of age, he has more to offer, don’t rule this out; Argentina fans can relate!
REMAIN AT BARCA
This is the most likely outcome of this saga.
Firstly, no club will like to meet his astronomical €700m release clause due to his age, his recent decline, the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and the Financial Fair Play rules. Barcelona are unwilling to negotiate a lower sum (La Liga recently backed them on this decision) and will do everything possible to keep him at Camp Nou.
Secondly, Messi had demanded to leave the club twice before (in 2014, during the reign of Tito Villanova and in 2016, due to tax issues) but still remained at the club — although then, he wasn’t explicit about it like now. He also retired from international duty for Argentina in 2016 but came out of retirement just nine(9) months later.
Barca fans are hopeful in this regard.
Lastly, the release clause which allows him to walk away freely has expired in June, although Messi’s representatives believe it has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. This can be settled in a court, but a legal battle is very unlikely as it will strain the relationship between both parties.
As the saga rages on, Football fans across the world are monitoring the situation closely with fingers crossed. Some — especially Barca fans — want him to resolve his issues with the club and stay, while others want him to leave in order to test (and prove) himself somewhere else.
TOP SOCCER BLOG wishes him the best on his next decision.
What/where do you think is the best decision/destination for Lionel Messi? You can express your opinion by using the comment box below, and don’t forget to share this with your friends. Thanks.
WRITTEN BY MUFTAUDEEN ABDULLAHI ISHOLA