After the humiliation of a season at the Camp Nou, the biggest blow of all has hit them – Lionel Messi wants out.
The consensus greatest player of all-time has been a Barcelona player for his entire career and is their top goalscorer ever, with 634 goals in 731 games for the club. The old top goalscorer, Cesar, had 232 goals.
It’s a record that will never, ever be beaten but it symbolises the greatness that is Messi. But after the club’s first trophyless season since 2006/07, the little Argentine has reportedly made it clear to the club that he wants out.
Following a collapse in La Liga saw Real Madrid overtake them to win the league, Barça were demolished by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals losing 8-2 in Lisbon. Messi had already called for changes across the club, including players, staff and board but this further exasperated those calls.
Quique Setien was sacked and replaced by Ronald Koeman, while Eric Abidal also left the club since the battering. But after meeting with Koeman, Messi reportedly reiterated a desire to leave the club although he acknowledged the difficulty in doing so because of his contract situation.
So if were to be sorted, where could Messi go? Where would he want to go?
Well the obvious shout is Manchester City. A reunion with Pep Guardiola would seem ideal for all parties, but they also have the cash to be able to work something out with him and Barcelona. He’d walk into the side as the main man but would also have no issues fitting in to a squad containing countrymen Sergio Aguero and Nicolas Otamendi, while Laporte, Torres, Rodri and Cancelo have all previously played in Spain. It would be a system he understands having worked with Guardiola previously and would give him the chance to still win all the major trophies he clearly wants. One issue could be Guardiola’s future, with the likelihood of him staying beyond the coming season very low. This is already the longest he has ever stayed at a single club and he’s been sounded out by Juventus on many occasions, so it could open up for him next year after the Italian side appointed Andrea Pirlo on a two-year deal.
Another option could be Paris Saint-Germain. The French side have been known to bend FFP rules to get in megastars and with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe already in the side, Lionel Messi would be the cherry on top of the icing. Money is never an issue for the Parisian’s but balance in the squad could become a problem. With Icardi, Di Maria, Draxler, Sarabia and Choupo-Moting also in the squad, several of them would need to leave for this to become a reality. With PSG in the Champions League final this season, they could be at the top of the game come the end of this campaign. What better way to celebrate that than by signing the best player of all time?
There’s also the chance that Juventus look to bring in Lionel Messi to the Allianz Stadium. With Cristiano Ronaldo already on the books, it’s entirely impossible that they could bring Messi in alongside his long-time rival. But with reports suggesting that Ronaldo could leave Turin this summer, what better way to replace him than with Lionel Messi. Known for being more of a team player than Ronaldo, his playmaking abilities will almost certainly fit Serie A well and he will help to create for the rest in the talent in the squad as well as using his technical skills to dominate another country.
A final option for Messi could be a return back home to see out his career in Argentina. Obviously, nobody in that league would be able to pay him anything close to what he is currently earning at Barcelona but with what he’s already earned in the past it’s hard to see him worrying about money. If he returned to Newell’s Old Boys he would get a heroes welcome and almost certainly be able to dominate the South American continent for years to come. The problem with this issue, is that even at 33 years of age he’s still far too good to not be playing in the biggest and best competitions in world football.
Barcelona will be hoping they can convince him over the next period of time that the Camp Nou is the place he should be and remain to finish his career. But if he remains unconvinced and is serious about leaving, the biggest transfer saga ever is waiting to unfold.