It’s the kind of news that football fans – certainly those in Barcelona – never thought they’d read: Lionel Messi is a free agent.
The legendary Argentine’s contract at the Nou Camp officially ran out at midnight, meaning that he is now free to discuss a move to a new club.
As you would imagine, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive, and the varied reports suggest that he is moving to PSG, Manchester City or the MLS….or that he may yet pen a new deal at Barcelona.
At this point, there is no general consensus of where the 34-year-old’s future may lie, and that’s makes the transfer speculation all the more intriguing.
The top Spanish football writer, Guillem Balague, told the BBC that Messi’s representatives and Barcelona opened talks on a new deal as far back as April.
“They want him to sign as soon as possible,” he said.
“But the timings will be dictated by the resolution of all the details that have not yet been agreed – such as tax issues, Messi’s wages and fitting the new contract within La Liga’s financial fair play rules – to keep the Argentine.”
You may recall that Messi tried to force his way out of Barcelona this time last year, although he was persuaded to stay in Catalonia.
He rewarded the club with 30 goals and nine assists in La Liga, but that wasn’t enough for Barca to reassert their dominance of Spanish football, and perhaps that’s why Messi let his contract run out.
Of course, it might just be a cynical ploy to get a better deal at Barcelona, who have a new president in Joan Laporta. He has said he will stop at nothing to convince Messi to sign for at least another season.
The Catalan giants have already signed his good friend Sergio Aguero, and so it may be the case that when Messi returns to Spain from the Copa America he will sign on the dotted line.
But then….maybe he won’t. This is a transfer saga with no clear ending in sight.
Lionel Messi Transfer Window Betting Odds
The bookmakers have released their betting odds that price up Lionel Messi’s club after the summer transfer window, and those odds make it clear that most expect the Argentine to stay at Barca.
But you can have a flutter on him seeking pastures new, and its PSG who have taken market favouritism at 5/1….although 3/1 is available with some books.
Who wouldn’t want to live in Paris? Messi would be able to pretty much a blank cheque as far as his earnings are concerned, with PSG’s Qatari owners desperate to establish the club as the best in the world. The Argentine’s signing would certainly aid that quest.
Manchester City would afford Messi the chance to link up with Pep Guardiola once more, with whom he enjoyed plenty of success between 2008 and 2011. The chance to play in a side that features Kevin de Bruyne would surely appeal, but swapping the gorgeous city of Barcelona for the still-beautiful-but-a lot-colder-Manchester.
The betting odds have ‘any MLS club’ available at 9/1, but this should be avoided by punters. Sides in America’s top division are only allowed to have three ‘designated’ – i.e. high profile – players on their books, and most have that provision already with the 2021 season underway. Few have the resources or the allure too, especially as Messi can still perform to an elite level.
So, in short, nobody has a clue what will happen next in this gripping transfer saga….