Messi leaves Barcelona: PSG, City or MLS? Potential destinations for the Argentina superstar

By Sports Desk August 06, 2021

So now we know: Lionel Messi is leaving Barcelona.

Having pushed hard to force through an exit a year ago, the Argentina superstar appeared set to commit his long-term future to the Spanish club by signing a new deal this offseason.

However, his Camp Nou days now appear over due to "economic and structural obstacles", despite reportedly agreeing to take a 50 per cent wage reduction. Put simply, the dire financial situation means Barca cannot keep their prized asset.

Unless there is another dramatic twist to the saga (and we definitely should not rule that out just yet), Messi must find a new home.

So where could the six-time Ballon d'Or winner end up? The list of options appears to be short, albeit varied.

Hello, Paris!

Paris Saint-Germain are the early front-runners in this unexpected race, and rightly so. Thanks to owners Qatar Sports Investments, the Ligue 1 side have the financial backing to make Messi a tempting offer, plus they would give him a chance of Champions League glory once again – they were beaten finalists in 2020, then knocked out in the last four the following season.

Compatriot Mauricio Pochettino is there, as too are international team-mates Leandro Paredes and Angel Di Maria. When you add in another familiar face in former Barca colleague Neymar, it suddenly seems like a cosy, obvious fit. Such a signing could also help sway Kylian Mbappe to sign a new contract, or at least make it far more palatable to consider cashing in on the Frenchman before his deal runs out.

The Pep reunion tour

A year ago, when Messi made us look up exactly what a burofax is, Manchester City appeared the likely landing spot. A once rock-solid relationship with Barca appeared in tatters, amid disgruntlement over what was happening both on and off the pitch. Moving to England would have finally answered the old line of, 'Yeah, but can he do it on a wet Tuesday in [insert team here]?', as well as reuniting him with Pep Guardiola, the coach who twice steered Barca to Champions League glory.

However, City have seemingly moved on since missing out on Messi. Not so long after Barca's statement was released, the Premier League champions confirmed the signing of Jack Grealish for £100million. Harry Kane has also been heavily linked with them, and the England captain will not come cheap (certainly if Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has anything to do with it). Even with City, there is a limit to how much you can spend.

Made in Chelsea

So how about Messi moves to the Premier League anyway, but just not to the club where everyone once expected? Chelsea have not been mentioned too much as a possible destination, either last year or now, but they have the resources and are seemingly keen to add to their attacking options, considering rumours of moves for Erling Haaland and, more recently, Romelu Lukaku. Unlike that duo, Messi is unattached and available for nothing (in terms of a transfer fee at least).

However, those links to central strikers suggest head coach Thomas Tuchel and the Chelsea hierarchy have a certain idea of what they want to add to the squad – and it may not be a 34-year-old who would require a rethink over the entire structure of the team. While Messi would no doubt enhance the Blues, west London appears unlikely to be welcoming him into the neighbourhood.

ML-YES!

Could Messi be set to take the well-trodden path from Europe to the United States? MLS has appeared a viable option for him at some stage in his playing days – he even said so himself in an interview with La Sexta in December 2020: "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!" Well, that dream could now become a reality, with the competition having a history of attracting big names in the twilight stages of their careers.

David Beckham did just that, and now he is heavily involved with Inter Miami – perhaps the leading MLS option for Messi. New York and Los Angeles could factor into consideration, with the chance for a global superstar to take the plunge in a major market. In truth, though, it seems this idea could come to fruition further down the line, rather than in the coming weeks.

No place like home…

While he has been at Barcelona since his teenage years, coming through the famous La Masia youth academy, Messi started out with Newell's Old Boys in Argentina. A move back to his hometown of Rosario would be a wonderful way to bookend his illustrious playing days. However, having scored 30 goals in 35 LaLiga games last term, he shows no signs of his ridiculously lofty standards slipping just yet.

Diego Maradona did have a brief stint there, with Messi revealing a Newell's number 10 shirt after scoring against Osasuna to pay tribute to the Argentina legend, who died in November 2020. Still, after finally securing a first international trophy with the national team, winning this year's Copa America on Brazilian soil, a return to his roots appears unlikely.

Related items

  • Arsenal 'don't deserve Champions League' – Xhaka furious after Newcastle defeat Arsenal 'don't deserve Champions League' – Xhaka furious after Newcastle defeat

    Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka was furious after his side's 2-0 Premier League defeat against Newcastle United, saying Mikel Arteta's team "don't deserve" Champions League qualification after the damaging reverse.

    A Ben White own goal gave the Magpies the lead in a must-win clash for the Gunners, before Bruno Guimaraes sealed Newcastle's victory late on, leaving Arsenal's top-four hopes hanging by a thread.

    Arsenal are now two points behind Tottenham in the standings with one match remaining, where Spurs will need to lose to Norwich City to allow the Gunners a chance to sneak back into the top four, courtesy of their inferior goal difference.

    The Gunners were comprehensively outclassed in the crucial encounter, producing just 0.40 expected goals compared to Newcastle's 1.38, and only controlling 33 per cent of the first-half possession.

    Speaking to Sky Sports after the loss, Xhaka called it a "disaster performance", accusing his team-mates of not following Arteta's gameplan and asserting the team did not deserve European football after producing such a showing.

    "So difficult to find right words after the game," he said. "We came here to show a different game, but from the first minute until the 90th minute we didn't deserve to be on the pitch today.

    "I can't explain why we didn't do what the game-plan was. Not listening to the coach, [it] was a disaster performance.

    "[If you] play like this you don't deserve Champions League, don't even deserve Europa league. Very hard to take it at the moment, I don't know why we are not doing what the coach is asking of us."

    Xhaka went on to declare Arsenal had not shown the necessary fight at St James' Park and his told team-mates that if they didn't "have the balls", they should have stayed at home.

    "I don't know if someone is not ready for this game, stay at home." he added. "Doesn't matter the age. You can be 30, 35, you can be 10, you can be 18 – [if you're] not ready, stay on the bench, stay at home, don't come here. 

    "We need people to have the balls - sorry to say that - to come here to play, because we knew this game is maybe one of the most important games for us.

    "A performance like this… [we cannot] accept it, very very sad for us. Sorry for the people that came over here to support us. I feel sorry for Arsenal supporters, this is the only thing I can say – to say sorry to them."

    Arsenal play Everton at the Emirates Stadium in their final fixture of the Premier League season on Sunday.

  • Chiellini says time is right for Juventus departure, reveals World Cup blow influenced decision Chiellini says time is right for Juventus departure, reveals World Cup blow influenced decision

    Giorgio Chiellini asserted it was the right time to end his Juventus career after making his final home appearance for the club, revealing Italy's failure to reach the Qatar World Cup influenced his decision.

    Chiellini played the first 17 minutes of a Serie A clash with Lazio on Monday, in which Juve threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.

    First-half goals from Dusan Vlahovic and Alvaro Morata looked set to ensure the Bianconeri marked the Allianz Stadium swansong of Chiellini – and Paulo Dybala – with a win, only for Sergej Milinkovic-Savic to equalise with the final kick of the game after Alex Sandro put through his own net.

    The 37-year-old defender, who has won 20 trophies during his incredible career with the Turin giants, has made 392 top-flight appearances for the club, a tally bettered only by Gianluigi Buffon (489) and Alessandro Del Piero (467).

    With Juventus guaranteed to finish fourth in Serie A after enduring a frustrating season, which also saw them lose the Coppa Italia final to Inter, Chiellini said the time had come for the Bianconeri's young players to take centre stage.

    "The decision came in months, weeks, not days," he told Sky Sports Italia. "I have always said that I would like to leave at a high level, and I succeeded. 

    "It was a difficult year, for Juventus and for me, but in the matches I managed, I played at my level. 

    "All this led me to leave now, to leave room for young people. Juve need to restart, and young people have to take responsibility and mature. I helped to clip some people's wings, now it's right for them to fly alone. 

    "I will cheer for them from near or far, and I made this decision with joy and serenity."

    The legendary Chiellini has made 25 appearances for Juventus in all competitions this season, 17 of them starts.

    Chiellini will end his Italy career after facing Argentina at Wembley Stadium on June 1, having won 116 caps to date during a glittering career with the Azzurri.

    Having helped Italy to Euro 2020 glory last year, he revealed March's shock World Cup qualification play-off defeat to North Macedonia had influenced his desire to step away from both Serie A and international football.

    "Of course, I wanted to get to the World Cup. It was the obsession I had after the European Championship," he added. "It is inevitable that I cannot play every match, but I wanted to be part of the national group. 

    "It didn't go the way we wanted, which accelerated my choice. [But] I leave a national team and a Juve in good hands."

    Chiellini is not planning on retiring, however, and has been linked with a potential move to Major League Soccer.

    Although he said he had not yet made a final decision regarding his future, Chiellini hinted that a move abroad would interest him. 

    "I don't know. It has attracted me, but for 10 years, I have to decide at home," he added. 

    "An experience abroad enriches you, I think I need to see a little outside my life and Juve. I have to understand together with the family, I have to take a look outside, also for my future."

  • Stunned Arteta admits Newcastle were '10 times better' than sorry Arsenal Stunned Arteta admits Newcastle were '10 times better' than sorry Arsenal

    A stunned Mikel Arteta says Newcastle United were "10 times" better than Arsenal and felt his side "could not cope" with the pressure in a 2-0 defeat that surely cost his side a Champions League place.

    The Gunners needed a win at St James' Park on Monday to move back above fierce rivals Tottenham into fourth place heading into the final day of the Premier League season.

    But Ben White scored a second-half own goal and Bruno Guimaraes sealed the Magpies' victory by doubling their lead with five minutes of normal time to play.

    Arsenal were dominated by Eddie Howe's side on Tyneside, ensuring Spurs will head to relegated Norwich City on Sunday knowing a point will surely be enough to seal a top-four finish given they have a far superior goal difference to the Gunners.

    Arteta's men have no chance of catching third-placed Chelsea and look destined for the Europa League next season ahead of an encounter with relegation-threatened Everton this weekend.

    The Gunners head coach was bemused by such a poor display from his team with so much on the line.

    He told Sky Sports: "Newcastle deserved to win the match and were much better than us. We had nothing in the game.

    "They were much better in every department: in the duels, with second balls. We were poor with the ball and didn't defend as we have to do

    "A lot of things happened during the night, with substitutions due to injuries, but it's not an excuse, Newcastle deserved to win the match because they were much better than us from the beginning. They were much better than us in everything that a football match requires to be on top of it."

    Arteta says such an insipid display was hard to take.

    "It's true that we could not cope with the game that we had to play here. We tried to change some things and it didn't make it better," the Spaniard added.

    "We had moments where we looked better at the start of the second half, we understood better what we had to do but then the execution was so poor and the goals we gave away were extremely poor.

    "It's extremely disappointing that Newcastle were 10 times better than us and fully deserved the match. The performance was nowhere near the level we need to be at if we want to play in the Champions League.

    "I am incredibly disappointed. The team we have at the moment there are questions marks in a lot positions because of the injuries and suspensions that we had but it's no excuse. We were not at the races today. It's a really very painful one.

    "It was in our hands and today it's not in our hands. We have to beat Everton and wait for Norwich to beat Spurs. There's always a chance in football and you have to be there just in case that chance appears."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.