It’s official. After months of conflicting reports, narrative-setting through the media and more, Lionel Messi leaving PSG is confirmed.
Fabrizio Romano reported that Lionel Messi’s father and agent, Jorge Messi, communicated the decision to the club one month ago due to disagreements over the sporting project.
Lionel Messi and PSG always felt like a marriage of convenience since he joined the club. The breaking point seemed to be PSG’s recent decision to suspend Lionel Messi for two weeks for what they considered an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia. However, Messi’s side insisted that PSG scheduled an impromptu training session on what was supposed to be an off day.
Paris Saint-Germain fans outside club’s HQ chanting against Leo Messi 🚨😳 #Messi
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 3, 2023
Now with the news confirmed of his departure and ties severed with PSG, attention turns to a single question- Where is Messi going after PSG?
Lionel Messi’s next club candidates
There aren’t many clubs that can afford to fairly compensate Lionel Messi for his talents. It was the reason why PSG was left as his one destination when he left Barcelona. Now, with his career on the crossroads again, the scenario hasn’t changed much.
There are three routes for Messi- Emotional angle, Financial angle, and Sporting angle. Here are the three clubs that fulfil these-
FC Barcelona- The emotional return
The rumours of a return to FC Barcelona for the club’s favourite son began the day after he left the club.
There are few stories in world football as intertwined as that of Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona. If a list of Messi’s accolades at Barcelona was to be published, it would be a hardcover novel on its own.
It is no secret that even when Messi left Barcelona, it wasn’t his choice to do so. Financial difficulties meant that he was forced to leave the club. He was willing to take a huge pay cut to stay at the club, to no avail.
Financial difficulties have still not subsided for the club and they will have to fight with La Liga to register Messi, even on a free transfer. However, with some departures, and the beautiful narrative at stake, football romantics will hope this fairytale gets its happy ending.
Al Hilal- Swimming in money
£320 million per year. That’s the amount Al-Hilal have offered Lionel Messi to rekindle his rivalry with his Portuguese rival. Cristiano Ronaldo is right now the highest-paid footballer in the world with an annual salary of nearly £165 million at Al- Nassr. However, Al-Nassr’s rivals Al-Hilal are willing to double that outlay to lure Lionel Messi to Al-Hilal.
Needless to say, if this move happens, it will be purely for the money. Cristiano Ronaldo’s case might actually deter Messi from the same. Rumours of Cristiano Ronaldo leaving Al-Nassr have already started surfacing less than a year after his joining.
The sporting prospect of joining Al-Hilal is almost zero as European competitions remain the holy grail for football players around the world. The same, however, can’t be said if he joins the next club on the list.
Manchester City- World domination
What if potential treble winners add arguably the greatest player in football history to their squad? This would be the scenario if Lionel Messi joined Manchester City.
Messi has ruled at the top of the footballing world, but his peak definitely came under Pep Guardiola, the current City coach. The Cityzens have previously flirted with Messi too. With the Erling Haaland records book adding new entries seemingly every week, the prospect of him combining with Messi, under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola is a recipe for domination, if City aren’t doing that already.
If the move happens, Messi would undoubtedly stack up trophies in the later years of his career, while playing in the most popular league in the world, and competing in the Champions League.
From a purely pragmatic point of view, Manchester City securing Messi would almost break club football.