It’s been coming. Barcelona had been warned about Messi’s displeasure with the way the club was being run and the results the club were producing on the pitch, especially in Europe.
And with reports breaking out on Tuesday about a transfer request faxed to Barcelona from the Argentine, it seems the time to say goodbye has finally arrived. So where next for Messi? Which club can afford to pay his astronomical wages?
Manchester City seem to be the favourites to land the ‘GOAT’, and with good reason. They have enough money coach is Pep Guardiola, who had three glorious years with Messi at Barcelona, winning 14 trophies. Guardiola’s tiki-taka style of possession football is akin to the Cruyff brand of football Messi is familiar with at Barca, so it makes the best sense for him footballing wise. Also at Manchester City is his best friend Sergio Aguerö. The pair have known each other since they shared a room at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, and Messi actually suggested to the Barca board that they should sign the forward in the summer of 2014 before Suarez joined. Aguerö will definitely be ecstatic to see his best friend at City, and with Kevin De Bruyne also on their books, City could be a real force in Europe next season with the acquisition of Messi.
Manchester United have also been linked with a move for Messi. The Red Devils have been in search of a franchise superstars to lead them back to their glory days ever since Ronaldo left. Who better to replace him with than his biggest rival? As the richest football club in the world, Manchester United should also have no problems paying the wages he demands.
Chelsea have been long time suitors of the Argentine wizard. The Blues’ big spending Russian oligarch, Roman Abramovic has been a fan of Messi for a while now, with rumours of Messi joining Chelsea stretching back all the way to 2009. With Chelsea having agreed deals with seven new signings so far though, it will be difficult for the Blues to complete a gargantuan move for Lionel Messi in the same summer. There’s also the factor of Chelsea not really needing a player in Messi’s position right now.
Paris Saint Germain will always be mentioned in the mix when there’s an opportunity to sign a global superstar, and rightly so. The Parisiens have proved that they are more than capable of splashing out the cash, changing the face of the transfer market forever when they signed Neymar in the summer of 2017 for €222 million. There is a slight hitch in this plan though, as Neymar claimed the whole reason why he left Barcelona in the first place was to step out of Messi’s shadow and become his own superstar. Will PSG risk incurring his wrath by signing Messi?
A potential frontline of Messi, Neymar and Mbappé might tempt them to do so.
Juventus potentially have the power to make our dreams a reality. With close to 2000 goals and assists, 11 Ballon D’ors and 8 UEFA Champions League trophies between them, Messi and Ronaldo have dominated football for over a decade now. And even in their relatively old age, they are still setting the world alight with their performances. It’s been the dream of many a football fan to see Messi and Ronaldo play together on the same team, even if for a charity match. And now with a Messi wanting a fresh start, Juventus have the opportunity to sweep in and pair together the two greatest players of our generation. Will they be able to afford the wages and other bonuses of both Messi and Ronaldo? That remains to be seen. But for now, it is definitely a possibility.
These are the teams I believe to be the main contenders for Messi’s signature. Other teams like Inter Milan, Arsenal, Inter Miami or even Leo’s childhood club Newell Old Boys could still have a say in where his future lies.
He may very well yet remain at Barcelona. Wherever he does go eventually though, one thing is for certain: they would have a resplendently gifted player on their hands.
By Nene Afadzinu