At this point, it feels like a foregone conclusion that Leo Messi will walk away from Camp Nou sooner rather than later. His contract expires at season’s end in June, but the 33-year-old can begin negotiating with clubs as early as January 1. Sure, it feels unthinkable given Messi’s two-decade run with Barcelona — who signed him at the ripe age of 13 — but the writing is on the wall.
For one, Barca is fielding its weakest team in a long time, reflected in the team’s La Liga title odds on Sportsbettingsites.com. Messi’s longtime teammate and trusted confident, Luis Suarez, was ousted in the offseason. And if not for the pandemic and a weird clause in Messi’s contract, he’d probably already be gone.
With the clock seemingly ticking on the marriage of the famed club and its legendary superstar, it’s hard to not preoccupy oneself with, “what’s next for Leo Messi?” That’s the topic of this very article. Here’s four prime candidates for Messi to take his talents to at season’s end:
No club has been linked to Messi more than Man City. Betting markets consistently peg it as Messi’s most likely non-Barca destination.
The link starts and ends with City’s manager Pep Guardiola. Of course, Pep coached Messi between 2008 and 2012, a stretch that earned Barcelona two Champions League titles. And adding Messi to the club’s already stacked roster would certainly put the Messi-Guardiola duo in prime position to win more.
There’s reportedly interest on both sides, but finances will also be a key factor in whether the transfer happens or not. A prestigious club like Man City isn’t strapped for cash by any means, but it also doesn’t have a bottomless budget. Superstars like Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, and fellow Argetenian Sergio Aguero already own monster deals.
Paris Saint Germain
PSG is in the midst of its own drama with its star player, Neymar. Which leads to two scenarios involving Leo Messi: either he’s outright Neymar’s replacement in its attack or the two are once again reunited for a run at the Champions League title that’s forever eluded PSG.
Make no mistake about it, PSG has the financial capital to pull off the move. Likewise, it has the win-at-all-costs mentality to execute such a maneuver. However, given Messi’s loyalty to certain coaches and players, a move to PSG would likely have to include having Neymar as a running mate and there’s no telling if Neymar is on-board given his issues with management.
Admittedly, Juve’s chances at landing Messi aren’t nearly as high as PSG or Man City. But a dream pairing of Messi with arch-nemesis Cristinao Ronaldo isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Juventus is one of the splashiest clubs in the world. Bringing the two GOATs of the sport would be the stuff of legends — and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they would at least try to pursue.
And don’t forget Adidas’ pull on the whole situation. The sportswear giant backs both Messi and Juventus (whereas Nike endorses the aforementioned Man City and PSG). There’s a lot of branding incentive for the Three Stripes to push its star signee, Messi, to an Adidas-branded club and away from a Nike club (which Barca currently is). To make the deal happen, Adidas could possibly foot some of the bill for Juventus in signing Messi.
We know, we know, we said Messi’s exit from Barcelona in 2021 was a foregone conclusion, but there’s a small sliver of hope that he resigns with the only pro team he’s ever known. Admittedly, a small chance, but a chance regardless.
Much of Messi’s frustration with Barca is less toward the club and more with ex-President Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board. Welp, Bartomeu and company are now goners, having resigned in October. Perhaps, just maybe, a complete leadership change causes Messi to think twice about walking out.
Messi’s pending free agency will remain THE focal point over the next several months. New rumors will inevitably swirl, but for now, Messi has his pick at any club he wants, including the four above.