The football universe doesn’t stay still for long. Less than 24 hours after the shock announcement that Lionel Messi is no longer a Barcelona player, the attention of fans around the world has turned to where the Argentian superstar will ply his trade next.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner had wanted to extend his contract at the Camp Nou – and had even made some pretty big concessions to try and ensure a fresh deal could be done, including taking a 50% pay cut and deferring wages.
Unfortunately, the Blaugrana are in some major financial trouble and are unable to register any new signings – including an extension to Messi’s contract – until they have drastically cut costs.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta confirmed in a press conference on Friday morning that the hurdles posed by Financial Fair Play proved simply too great to overcome, leaving the 34-year-old with no option but to seek a new club.
Which club will Lionel Messi sign for after leaving Barcelona?
After the news of Messi’s departure broke, social media was abuzz with speculation as to where he might end up next. The firm favourite for many was a switch to French giants Paris Saint-Germain, where he could link up with close friend and former Barcelona teammate Neymar.
However, Marca has reported that Messi himself actually favours a reunion with another influential figure from his past – in the shape of current Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.
A switch to PSG would likely yield some fantastic results on the pitch. However, Mauricio Pochettino’s side could be heading for financial issues of their own, as the club begins to feel the toll of its massive wage bill for a squad now packed with big-name talent.
Estimates suggest that the Ligue 1 club will soon be facing a £200m deficit in their books, meaning that taking on the substantial salary of a man like Messi probably isn’t advisable.
The last thing the player wants is to walk straight from one financially volatile situation into another and is therefore believed to be keen on a move to the Etihad Stadium to link-up with Guardiola – who he had great success alongside at Barcelona.
Lukaku to Chelsea done today? (The Football Terrace)
City, like the rest of the world, were caught off guard by Messi’s sudden availability and have been aggressively pursuing a move for Tottenham’s Harry Kane this summer. Whether recent events change that situation remains to be seen.
One of the finest players ever to lace up a pair of boots, Messi still has plenty to offer any team that he joins. As he determines his next destination, the next few weeks should be very interesting indeed.