Last night, while William Saliba was making his Arsenal debut, Lionel Messi decided to steal the spotlight and publicly declare that he wants to leave Barcelona. The Argentinean communicated via fax to the board that he wants to quit the club this summer. There’s a clause in the 33-year-old’s contract that allows him to leave on a free if evoked before the 10th June, if not, his price tag is €700m. Messi argues that due to the delayed ending of the season, that date no longer reflects this season’s end and he has the right to exercise it now.
If President Bartomeu doesn’t resign and Messi refuses to retract his demand, the matter could be resolved in court. If the greatest player in Barcelona’s history was to leave this summer, there are only a few places he could go.
Here are three options for Lionel Messi.
#3 Paris Saint-Germain
After losing in last season’s Champions League Final, Paris Saint-Germain has never been hungrier to reach the summit of European football. QSI, the owners of the club, have always maintained that their ultimate purpose for investing in the club is to win the UCL. The owners will stop at nothing to achieve that goal and the purchase of Lionel Messi is well within the realms of possibilities.
It’s no secret that Neymar left Barcelona so he could be the main man of a team and not under the shadow of Lionel Messi. However, if Messi were to make the short trip to Paris, he would now be under the ruling of Neymar.
Realistically, the French giants are one of the few clubs in the world who could afford the 33-year-old’s seismic wages without breaking a sweat. Could you imagine a Kylian Mbappe, Neymar & Lionel Messi front three? 😳
Ok ok, stop laughing, I know what you’re thinking. “Arsenal can barely afford to give Aubameyang £250,000-a-week, how could they afford Messi’s close to £1,000,000 salary?” Ok, that’s fair, but lets for one second imagine the 33-year-old was willing to take a pay cut and Arsenal were able to offload a few players from the wage bill, then a reasonable comprise could be reached. But I can hear you asking another question: “why would one of the best players ever join a Europa League club?” I’ll tell you why. Do not underestimate the pull of Mikel Arteta.
Arsenal’s new manager is building one of the most exciting projects in football at the Emirates. The Spaniard has already convinced Aubameyang to stay, charmed Gabriel Magalhaes into joining over Man United and is now working on deals to secure Thomas Partey, Houssem Aouar and Thiago Alcantara.
Once Messi sees the ambition of the new coach, he’ll be compelled to join. Arteta would sell it to him as an opportunity to be part of a rebuild, a rebuild with the aim of winning the UCL within 3 years, something Barcelona haven’t been able to offer him since 2015. Living in London and being the most important player at a massive club like Arsenal, why wouldn’t Messi come?
#1 Manchester City
Now, this was the most obvious choice on the list and possibly the most plausible. Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi have created magic in the past and the footballing world has been crying out for a reunion of some kind. The main reason why Messi wants to leave Barcelona is that he feels the club’s recent recruitment strategy is making them fall behind their rivals. He wants to win as many trophies as possible and joining Manchester City would give him the realistic opportunity to add a Premier League title to his CV, as well as the chance of another UCL.
The prospect of the Argentinean playing with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling & Bernardo Silva is mouth-watering for neutrals but must send shivers down the spine of Jurgen Klopp. Realistically, Manchester City are in a position to afford Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola would jump at the chance to work with his prodigy again.