The rumour mill has taken a new twist in the past week thanks to stirrings coming out of the Catalan capital. According to a myriad of sources, it is believed Lionel Messi wants away from the Camp Nou. So, could this really be the diminutive Argentinian’s last season at Barcelona? It has been proclaimed that it took some persuasion for Messi to stay on from former boss Tito Vilanova.
Messi has recently hit the headlines after becoming La Liga’s all-time goal scorer. He accomplished this incredible feat by banging in a hat trick against Sevilla in a 5-1 mauling. Messi finally surpassed the previous record set by Telmo Zarra which stood at 251 goals. By achieving this in less than 255 appearances for the Spanish giants is nothing short of remarkable.
To date, he is also the joint top goal scorer in the UEFA Champions League record books having drawn level with Raul on 71 goals. Yet there are rumblings across Europe that Messi may not be happy with his current situation. Is this happy marriage about to lead to a messy divorce?
The Argentine forward declared to Argentine sports daily, Ole that he is uncertain about his long term plans. In addition to this, Messi has revealed that he came close to making an untimely departure from Barca last season. This was amid continual criticism about his fellow countryman Gerard Martino.
Amid the speculation, it is believed that Paris Saint Germain had an offer on the table for Messi. At present, Messi’s relationship with the Barca executives are cordial at best and feels the board should be doing more. Meanwhile, his tax fraud case has not helped matters and is unconvinced by the vision outlined by Coach Luis Enrique.
With Messi feeling unhappy of late, which sides could prize him away from the three-time Champions League winners?
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Arsene Wenger could use Lionel Messi at the moment. The French manager’s reign is on the ropes as the Gunners have not gotten off to the best of starts. In fact, after just 12 games, it is their worst start to a season for more than two decades. Two consecutive defeats to both Swansea City and Manchester United in November have left the Wenger boys languishing in eighth in the league table. Many have called for the manager to go after delivering just the FA Cup in the past 10 years. Clearly, Arsenal are not the same team who called themselves “The Invicibles” in 2003 when they went the whole season unbeaten. The war chest at the Emirates is as tight as Wenger’s spending over the last five years but they may be finally tempted to cough up. This is especially the case if all is unwell in Spain with Messi. Wenger’s style fits perfectly with the nippy Argentinean where he could play as a false no.9 or just off Olivier Giroud in the number 10 role.
9 Al Ain
If Messi wants to go for the big bucks then a trip to the Middle East may just be in the cards. In spite of the fact that he has a multi-million dollar deal in place with Barcelona, contracts mean nothing in today’s football. Therefore, he could cash in big time at Dubai based, Al Ain. The Emirati club has a bottomless wad of dough and they could just tempt Messi to come over. However, it would take a lot of finances in order to secure his signature, whilst he would have to become accustomed to a completely different culture. Big money signings that Al Ain have previously made include the likes of ex Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan and Abide Pele.
8 New York City FC
An interesting move for Messi could be across the pond to newly formed New York City FC. Directly linked with the blue half of Manchester, this all American outfit could stump up enough cash. On the other hand, they have bolstered their profile with an exclusive sponsorship deal with leading sports brand Adidas. This is a genuine bonus as NYC FC competes in their inaugural season in Major League Soccer. Created as a sister club to Manchester City, they have already secured a number of different high profile players. This features not only ex Chelsea man Frank Lampard but former Barca player David Villa. Having an ex-colleague amid the glitz and glamour of the MLS could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Messi.
Heading to Turkey could also prove to be extremely beneficial as Turkish giants Galatasaray may just be able to afford Lionel Messi. This is largely in part down to generous tax reductions in Turkey which will mean the Argentinean could walk away with a bigger net salary package when compared to other countries. After all, they did manage to sign Didier Drogba for a whopping package just a few years ago. According to reports, the Turkish club paid Drogba an impressive $13.5 million across a contract lasting for 18 months. This is not taking into account several bonuses including a match incentive where the Ivorian was paid $20,000 for every game he appeared in.
6 Manchester United
The Theatre of Dreams may be a possible option for Lionel Messi, as Manchester United strives to return to the glory days. Having already spent pots of money on bringing in Angel Di Maria and Colombian striker Radamel Falcao to Old Trafford, could Messi be next? It would take an astronomical amount of cash to bring him in, but the Red Devils have had no choice but to follow the current spending trend. With the big boys splashing the cash in the transfer stakes, United have upped the ante. They have brought in Dutch all-rounder Daley Blind for $25 million not to mention Ander Herrera for nearly $45 million. With this in mind, Manchester United would have to pay Messi more than the half million dollar a week contract that Wayne Rooney is on. This could be possible but the Glazer family would need an immediate impact both on and off the pitch.
5 Bayern Munich
German force Bayern Munich is another contender for Messi’s signature. The Bundesliga champions have enjoyed lots of success on the field which culminated in the 2013 treble winning season. Under the helm of the great Jupp Heynckes, Bayern Munich went on to win the German League, German Cup and of course the UEFA Champions League. This concluded with a 2-1 win over their league rivals Borussia Dortmund at Wembley stadium. The eventual winner came from Arjen Robben but the team itself were without question the most powerful European force in recent history. Their run to the final featured a 7-1 aggregate demolition of FC Barcelona who did not have a sniff across both games. With a rich vein of players running throughout their entire squad, Messi could find himself a new home in Bavaria. This is also coupled with Bayern’s coach, Pep Guardiola who brought Messi through the ranks at FC Barcelona. It is this previous relationship with the Spaniard that could be decisive if Messi was to make the move to Germany.
4 Manchester City
English powerhouse Manchester City could be in the running as far as Messi is concerned. The Abu Dhabi backed club will definitely have funds in place to bring the Spaniard to the Etihad. There is no doubt in their mind that the Blues need to be at the forefront of European football. By signing the likes of Lionel Messi, this will certainly bolster their squad, whilst at the same time ensure City compete with the big boys. Nonetheless, Messi will command a vast pay packet if he were to make the move to the Premier League. Manchester City has already splashed out on defenders such as Eliaquim Mangala for the excess of $40 million. With his Argentine teammate Sergio Aguero already leading the frontline, could this prove to be the ultimate footballing double act?
Since his takeover of the club some 10 years ago, there is no denying the impact Roman Abramovich’s millions have had on Chelsea. The South West London outfit have shelled out heavily in the past from Didier Drogba to more recently Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa. The Spanish striker has paid back his fee with a string of goals to his name in his debut season in the Barclays Premier League. Nonetheless, Chelsea alongside Manchester City are more than likely the only two English clubs that could afford Lionel Messi. At the end of the day, the proof is always in the pudding but Chelsea would be among the favourites to make an audacious bid for the forward.
2 Real Madrid
Could the unthinkable happen where Messi turns his back on Barca in favour of Los Blancos? It might be farfetched at present, but Real Madrid certainly has enough money to throw at any player in the world. They eventually secured their 10th UEFA Champions League title in May 2014 with a 4-1 defeat of arch rivals Atletico Madrid. However, Real Madrid have been notorious for having an outlandish transfer policy which spanned nearly a decade. Having splashed out world record transfer fees on both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, Madrid have paid $60 million plus for several other players. This has previously included Zinedine Zidane and Portuguese legend Luis Figo to name but a few. Yet, there are few superpowers with enough riches such as Real Madrid to tempt Messi away from the Camp Nou.
1 Paris Saint Germain
They say money talks and nowhere is this more evident than in the French capital. Paris has it all from fashion to food, but it is also home to the Qatari backed Paris Saint Germain. Yet this does not detract from the Parisians making a daring move for Lionel Messi. PSG have limitless riches whilst the Qatari owners aim to put them on the highest pedestal of European football. They have already injected plenty of capital into the Ligue 1 side and have added significant power to their squad. This include Uruguayan striker Edison Cavani, Lucas Moura and former Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish international has certainly increased the clout of the French champions who are looking to enhance their profile in the long term. By signing Lionel Messi, this could be the final piece of the puzzle.
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