Where Will Lionel Messi Go Next
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Is Messi leaving? Will he be staying? What does Messi really want? It’s only a matter of time before those questions are finally answered!

On Tuesday, the most Ballon d’Or winner in history and Football Club Barcelona legend dropped a bombshell that he will be leaving Barcelona. Rather than wallowing in the throes and despair of it all, it’s better to understand his decision as he tries to find new challenges elsewhere. 

The legendary playmaker and diminutive attacking force had been with Barcelona since age 13 and had achieved numerous team accolades and individual awards with the Spanish giant club senior team. 

The world in which Lionel Messi does not play for Barcelona unless he retires seems like a dream without realism, but that could be the reality in the not too distant future.

Barcelona, once the undisputed greatest team in the world, are undergoing one of their darkest periods in recent history – off the backs of a season in which they failed to win a single title since 2007-08.

And now, following repeated humiliation in the Champions League as well as tension with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, Messi has informed his club of his wish to leave the club he had to grow to love.

Following their 8-2 humiliation by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Messi had hinted that he wants to leave the club this summer. He called off contract renewal talks with the club earlier this year and wants to leave for free, a clause that may lead to a bitter spat between him and the management. The big question is where will he go? 

Despite Lionel Messi dropping a transfer request on Barcelona’s management of his wish to leave the club for free as his contract stipulated. The Barcelona board of directors are not ready to dance in the Argentines contract tunes as the management is eager to capitalize on the fact that the contract had June 10 as the deadline of Messi will to walk away for free or he will have to pay his 700 million euros release clause

Proportionally, the news of Messi’s potential availability will no doubt put Europe’s top clubs on alert. However, only a select few would be able to afford the star. According to Football Leaks, Messi earns a staggering €60,395,769 in basic yearly wages.

Which works out as approximately £988,000 per week, not including bonuses. Football Leaks also revealed that the star receives £9.1m per year in image rights and that bonus payments can reach as much as £13m per year.

The potential availability of Lionel Messi will make most clubs dream of having him in their midst, such as the case of Newell Old Boys, as the fans of the Argentine club wish to once again see their former youth player back among them. However, very few clubs are capable of having the diminutive Argentine in their rank. 

The like of Manchester City and their arch-rival, Manchester United, Juventus and their league counterpart, Inter Milan, Paris Saint-German, Bayern Munich, and other Major League Soccer club in the United State can actually finance his wage and bonuses with the exception of his release clause should he resolve the dispute with his current employer. 

Should the Argentine eventually resolve his contract issue with Barcelona, where he will go next to the top clubs? But the burning question on everyone’s lips is, if Messi’s leaving, where is he going?

The contenders 

FC Barcelona

Messi’s opined to leave Barcelona light has sparked global outrage among the football lovers globally, as the Argentine trend with over 8million tweets in less than a day after dropping his opinion to leave the club. 

Many still believe that the intention of the Argentine is rather politics than footballing reason. 

Lionel Messi has been constantly on a social media war front with Barcelona’s management, even during the pandemic break in believe that the management was politically forcing the player to take a pay cut. Also, the Barca Gate scandal is one of the issues that had been dissatisfying the Barcelona captain.

There has been an all-round insinuation that the resignation of the Club president might eventually be made the club captain change his mind and resolve to stay behind, at least for the remainder of his contract period. 

Furthermore, if there is no resolution between the club captain and the management on his contract clause, the Argentine might eventually stay behind to finish his contract, at least, he’ll be staying back at Barcelona for one more year due to the buyout clause on his contract. 

Manchester City 

Guardiola recently held talks with Messi and it is understood that he would be delighted to have his former charge at the Etihad Stadium. But, Manchester City is arguably the most logical and one of the more realistic clubs that Messi could ply his trade next.

Messi could be tempted to reunite with Pep Guardiola, his former coach at Barcelona, and the manager who oversaw his meteoric rise to becoming one of the greatest players in the world. The Argentine enjoyed some of his most successful and trophy-laden times with Guardiola at Camp Nou, and their mutual admiration and respect on and off the pitch could be a huge selling point.

Beyond Guardiola, Manchester City is understood to be one of the few clubs who are in the financial position to actually sign the Barcelona superstar.

It’s no secret that the Champions League trophy is the piece of silverware the Cityzen are desperate to get their hands-on, and it’s hard to imagine them not being an unstoppable force in Europe with a formula consisting of Messi.

The 33-year-old, for his part, is a four-time winner of the Champions League and could add notable experience to the City team.

Inter Milan

Another strong contender linked with Messi is Internazionale di Milano. In a sporting sense, this makes sense. Inter finished second in Italy’s Serie A behind Juventus, which has won the last nine titles and narrowly lost the Europa League final.

The club has been building its squad in recent seasons and is hungry to knock Juventus off its perch domestically, and for success in Europe. The addition of Messi, joining an already exciting forward line of Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku, would almost guarantee this. 

Joining Inter would allow Messi to prove once more he can lead a club to success, and it would allow him to renew his rivalry with the other best-player-in-the-world, Cristiano Ronaldo, who moved to Juventus from Real Madrid.

Inter is backed by the Chinese holding group Suning, so finances could realistically be procured, and recent changes in tax law in Italy have made the league more attractive to high-earning footballers, meaning clubs can more easily match the wages of English and Spanish competitors. 

Juventus

Many football fans across the globe had been willing to see the pairing of the best players of their generation, if not in the history of the game, for at least a season or more. The Argentina international and Juventus might just make the wish of the football fan become a reality is not too far future if both parties could find a common ground. 

With the sensational signing of Cristiano Ronaldo for 100 million euro in 2018, Juve showed it was willing to spend big despite winning Serie A every year, with the Champions League the driving ambition.

So far that itch has not been scratched in the current era, so the club may feel the need to make another outrageous statement of intent. Shirt sales and marketing opportunities are thought to have made the Ronaldo spend viable. Imagine what having both superstars on the same team, with 11 Ballon d’Ors between them, would do for the side’s marketability — as well as for headline writers everywhere.

Others

PSG is also a strong contender to acquire the service of the 33-year-old argentine. However, the wage bill of signing Kaylan Mbappe and Neymar Jr could diminish the influence of the French club on their admiration for the service of the Argentine magician. 

However, the dream of European dominance took a step further as they eventually reached the final in Lisbon this year. But with the addition of Lionel Messi, the French club could eventually win their most coveted gong. 

Another club on the list is the eventual winner of the 2020 Uefa Champions defeating the Paris Club in Lisbon, Bayern Munich. The Bavarian is however not really showing interest in Barcelona’s captain. The club Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reiterated.

The first likes of Manchester United, Newell old boys are in contention, but the financial attitude and rebuilding could spell a doomed for the earlier to capitalize on the potential availability of the 33-year-old, but the later could be hoping for the Messi’s love for their club and the fans expectation to lure their former player back in their nest. 

With all these top clubs on high alert for the possible departure of Messi from Barcelona, many are patiently waiting for the outcome of the contract saga between Messi and Barcelona. But where the Argentina magician will go next will be revealed in the too far distance as the transfer saga whine down on October 5.

READ MORE: 10 Worst Barcelona Signings Of All Time

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