Messi will also have an eye on his biggest rival. Cristiano Ronaldo is thriving in Italy with Juventus after leaving Real Madrid. While the Turin side also fell woefully short in their pursuit of the Champion’s League, Ronaldo did win back-to-back Serie A titles.
Furthermore, Inter Milan are ready to swoop for Messi if he leaves for free. Messi would relish the challenge of hoisting Inter back to the top of the Italian league and overcoming his Portuguese nemesis again. It would be quite the story even if the chances of it happening are low.
If – and it is a big if – Messi can walk away for nothing, then his options are very exciting. Firstly, there is Manchester City and Pep Guardiola. We’ve spoken about Inter Milan but Paris Saint-Germain’s financial power also makes them a realistic option.
Meanwhile, Messi spoke before about his interest in playing for David Beckham’s Inter Miami franchise. Finally, there’s the romantic option of returning to his native Rosario with Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina. It may be too early for the latter clubs but it’s very fun to speculate.
Messi knows that the next two seasons could define his legacy. The World Cup is fast approaching and it’s his last chance to win a senior honor with his nation. Furthermore, he will want to make the most of his remaining peak years at a club level. But that may not be with Barcelona.
He has already won the most Ballon d’Or trophies in the history of the award. However, he looks increasingly unlikely to add to that because of Barcelona’s stagnation. Only time will tell where he ends up. Messi does not want to settle for being second best.
Years of mismanagement have eroded Barcelona’s status as one of the strongest clubs in world soccer. Their transfer record over the past four years is nothing short of abysmal. PSG forced them to sell Neymar so they panicked and threw $150 million at Liverpool for Coutinho.
They then proceeded to send their record signing on loan to Bayern Munich after a poor season. Of course, Coutinho scored two goals in Munich’s crushing 8-2 win over Barcelona. Furthermore, they now have to pay Liverpool over $5 million because the transfer had a Champion’s League winning clause. Simply appalling.
Few players are under as much pressure as Messi. He is Barcelona’s main man through and through. Nobody else in the squad is capable of producing the same moments of genius. But carrying a team for so long will take its toll on the Argentinian. In sum, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he had enough.
Furthermore, some analysts have suggested Messi is a problem for Barcelona. Often other players pass to him instead of taking another better option. It’s clear that the two parties have a complicated relationship. All good things come to an end.
There is a sense that it’s too late for all parties now to step back. Everybody has played their hands and nobody wants to look weak. However, it’s 2020, and player power has never been stronger. You get the feeling that Messi will get whatever he wants in the end.
The big question is does he actually want to leave? If so, then it will be difficult to keep him because of the dominance he has over the locker room. But even if his intentions are political, he will still win the battle. At the end of the day, the fans care about Messi, not suits.
Finally, Messi has nothing left to prove in Barcelona. Yes, the team should have been more competitive in Europe over the past few years. But he helped inspire them to a golden era of soccer. During his greatest years under Pep Guardiola, they were a true powerhouse.
If he leaves, fans are unlikely to react badly. At least not in his direction. The man is a living legend and it’s almost impossible to envisage him in another team’s shirt. But that may well be the case. However, he has given Barcelona countless incredible moments.