Football world was thrown agog with news that Argentina star man and arguably the greatest football player of all time, Lionel Messi’s amazing and remarkable 21 years at Barcelona comes to a climax.
Barcelona announced on Thursday that the superstar and six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi would leave the club following a breakdown in contract negotiations due to financial regulations imposed by LaLiga which prevented the club from retaining their highest-ever goalscorer.
Messi’s previous deal expired in June, but the Argentine was set to re-sign for the Catalan giants after fresh negotiations.
The 34-year-old was due to sign a new deal that would see him take a 50 percent pay cut, worth £425million over four years, in order to ease some of Barcelona’s financial pressures.
However, Barcelona released a shock statement on Thursday evening stating that the deal cannot go ahead.
The statement said: “Given this situation, Lionel Messi will not continue to be linked to FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of both the player and the Club cannot finally be fulfilled.
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“Barca would like to thank with all its heart the player’s contribution to the enhancement of the institution and wishes him the best in his personal and professional life.”
But the biggest question now is where is Messi off to next?
Spanish league rules make it impossible for Messi to re-sign with the club he’s spent his whole career at, but that might not be how the story ends.
Many of the most influential figures in the game were already working out how they could secure one of the greatest players of all time, and still the best right now. Phones have been ablaze.
The only club that can foot Messi’s financial demands is French giants PSG, who will no doubt be in the race, following the recent news.
According to The Sun, Messi was reportedly offered everything money could buy after his initial contract expired at Barcelona; in an attempt to reunite the Argentine with former teammate Neymar.
The coast is now clear for PSG to acquire Messi now that he won’t be staying on in Spain.
French journalist Mohamed Bouhafsi tweeted: “For several hours, Leo Messi is in discussions with Paris Saint Germain. Negotiations are underway. PSG are very attentive to the situation in order to find a solution.”
PSG have registered a long-standing interest in Messi, however, a deal seemed impossible until now.
Messi also has a close friendship with PSG’s Brazilian superstar Neymar, and the pair spent time together in Barcelona.
Messi had dinner with PSG players Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Leandro Paredes and Marco Verratti in Ibiza before the announcement.
The Argentine has been strongly linked with the Premier League champions since revealing he had intentions to leave the club last summer.
However, Messi made a U-turn and decided to play out the final year of his contract with the Catalan club.
With Jack Grealish’s arrival and a potential move for Tottenham striker Harry Kane means going after Messi would be difficult given financial fair play restrictions.
The potential for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi to re-unite together is one that would excite every football fan on the planet.
But whether the Serie A giants could afford both players, or even just Messi is extremely unlikely.
The Old Lady have struggled financially and any move to try and sign Messi would only worsen their financial woos.
The 34-year-old may decide to leave Europe altogether and head across the pond to join David Beckham’s Inter Miami.
The newly formed franchise will be boosted by the fact that Messi has previously expressed his desire to play in the MLS.
In an interview with Spanish TV channel La Sexta in December of last year, Messi said: “I would like to play in the United States someday, it’s always been one of my dreams…but I don’t know if it will happen.”
Newell’s Old Boys
The Argentine could return to his homeland and end his career in the place where it all began.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has been tipped by many to end his career at Newells, but other factors will come into play, including relocating his family back to South America.
But Messi has made it no secret that returning to Newells would be a dream come true.
He told TyC Sports in October 2019: “I have the dream of being able to play for Newell’s in Argentina, but I don’t know if it’s really going to happen because I have a family that is ahead of my desire.
“It’s a dream I’ve had since I was little, but I have a family, I have three children, I live in a place that has given me everything and where I am calm and can give my children a spectacular future.
“We think much more about that than my desire to play football in Argentina. I will try to convince the family, because today we have to convince the children too.”