Rejoin Barcelona or Newell’s? Attempt Premier League, MLS? Keep at PSG?


The place will Lionel Messi play subsequent? Though the Argentina worldwide is staying for a second season with PSG, there’s already loads of hypothesis concerning the subsequent stage of his profession.

The Barcelona legend will likely be free to go away in June of 2023 when his contract with PSG expires, and there are a number of locations that would tempt him. We requested our writers Sam Marsden, Rob Dawson, Tim Vickery, Jeff Carlisle and Julien Laurens to find out the chances of every of those attainable strikes.

Possibility 1: Return to Barcelona

A 12 months is a very long time in soccer and even longer at Barcelona. May Messi, on the age of 36, make a sensational return to Camp Nou to say a correct farewell to Barca followers?

President Joan Laporta has stated Messi might come again as a participant provided that it was without cost, which would be the case subsequent summer time, so the choice would lie with coach Xavi Hernandez if the participant wished to tug on a Barca shirt once more.

Xavi is making an attempt to rebuild Barca from the bottom up and, whereas exceptions could be made because of the membership’s monetary scenario within the quick time period, he needs youthful gamers who will press and harry for 90 minutes. He doesn’t need one participant who’s exempt from sure duties, however Messi is Messi, and what he did at Barca — scoring 672 objectives in 778 video games; breaking information week after week — would possibly by no means be repeated.

He nonetheless means a lot to the membership. Plus, he has proven for Argentina, if not but for Paris Saint-Germain persistently, that he nonetheless has that spark others can solely dream of. After which there’s his relationship with Xavi. If he actually wished to return again, and if his wages had been not an issue, it could be arduous to say no.

However there’s a feeling at Barca that Messi’s chapter as a participant for the membership has closed. It’s anticipated that he will likely be again within the metropolis he calls dwelling ahead of later, however solely as soon as his boots have been hung up — he has stated, for instance, that he’d prefer to be a sporting director. However who is aware of the place the Barca cleaning soap opera will likely be in 12 months’ time? Stranger issues have occurred over the past two years. — Marsden

The Premier League can provide Messi cash and a problem, however the query is whether or not he needs or wants both at this stage of his profession.

Even in England, there are solely a handful of golf equipment who might afford him; specifically Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Newcastle. His hyperlinks with Man Metropolis are apparent given his time at Barcelona with supervisor Pep Guardiola, in addition to Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, however that ship may need already sailed.

For years, membership bosses insisted that if Messi ever determined to go away Camp Nou they’d be one of many first within the queue, however when it got here to the crunch in the summertime of 2021, they by no means made a transfer. Metropolis had been severely a 12 months earlier in 2020, however Messi finally determined to remain at Barcelona. When he did finally depart, Metropolis had moved on and PSG had been allowed a comparatively free run.

Metropolis have since invested closely in youthful forwards like Jack Grealish and Erling Haaland, and it is uncertain whether or not they would change tack even for Messi — regardless of the large business attraction of touchdown the Argentinian.

The lure of including Messi to an already large advertising and marketing machine could be a key consideration for Man United, however they’re additionally a membership making an attempt to maneuver away from throwing superstars right into a mishmash of a squad. They poured cash into strikes for Paul Pogba, Alexis Sanchez and Cristiano Ronaldo, however that was underneath former government vice-chairman Ed Woodward. His successor, Richard Arnold, has transferred a lot of the soccer decision-making to soccer director John Murtough, who’s making an attempt to construct a extra balanced group of gamers for brand spanking new boss Erik ten Hag after practically a decade of recruitment errors.

Messi’s arrival at Outdated Trafford would excite the followers, however it could additionally appear to be one other short-term resolution quite than one geared toward long-term success. Newcastle’s new cash and Chelsea’s new house owners make each potential choices, however seeing Messi within the Premier League stays unlikely. — Dawson

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Possibility 3: Homecoming to Newell’s Outdated Boys

Through the years, Messi has nurtured a dream of rounding it off the place all of it started, going again to his native metropolis of Rosario and ending his profession with Newell’s Outdated Boys, the membership he left on the age of 13. Nevertheless, it could be a kind of concepts that’s higher left as a dream as a result of the nearer it appears as a real risk, the extra distant it seems.

From the purpose that he fell out with Barcelona, his followers in his dwelling nation gleefully picked up on the notion that the nationwide crew had turn out to be his No. 1 precedence. However, for a few causes, that may not translate into time spent within the home Argentine recreation.

One is whether or not he would benefit from the soccer. On his journeys again throughout the Atlantic, Messi has had frequent trigger to criticise the usual of South American pitches. He has been introduced up on excellent taking part in surfaces, in a mode of soccer the place the spectacle is nearly as necessary because the outcome. He has by no means performed the “win in any respect prices” soccer which has such a maintain on the up to date South American membership recreation.

After which there’s his household. Rosario could be his native metropolis, however the identical doesn’t apply to his kids, who love Barcelona and have been creating a relationship with Paris.

South American gamers who’ve spent prolonged spells in Europe typically have issues with their youngsters after they transfer again. The continent could be dwelling to the daddy, however it’s not dwelling to his kids, unaccustomed to the extent of social violence that, for instance, noticed Emerson Royal of Tottenham within the midst of a gun battle final week after a firearm was pointed at him when he was on vacation again in Brazil.

Argentine gamers have skilled related issues. Due to Messi’s standing, there could be no hiding place for his youngsters, particularly in a provincial metropolis similar to Rosario. They’d be dwelling in a goldfish bowl — with an ever-present worry that the glass would possibly crack.

So when his time in Europe involves an finish, a spell in america would possibly nicely be the almost definitely situation. The strain is not going to be so intense, on each the footballer and the daddy. — Vickery

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Gab Marcotti and Julien Laurens give their tackle Lionel Messi after the ahead has endured a troublesome first season in Paris.

Possibility 4: Transfer to MLS

It is the hearsay that merely will not go away: Messi is certain for Inter Miami.

Messi teased the chance again in January of 2018, when he despatched membership co-owner David Beckham a congratulatory video after Inter Miami lastly obtained phrase they’d start play in 2020. The 2 sides have been batting their eyelashes at one another ever since and, as lately as three weeks in the past, Messi was reported to be Miami-bound in the summertime of 2023 — together with a 35% curiosity within the crew. That report was finally shot down, however a attainable transfer is sensible.

Messi owns a condominium price $7.6m in Miami Seaside, and he would possibly really feel it is the right place to spend the final two or three years of his taking part in profession earlier than, say, returning to Barcelona in an envoy function. His presence would definitely give Miami and MLS a jolt of publicity as the joy for the game forward of the 2026 World Cup — which the U.S. is co-hosting with Canada and Mexico — begins to ramp up.

MLS does have its share of expertise in bringing iconic gamers to the league, be it Beckham, Thierry Henry or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Even when Messi’s wage had been to be within the tens of tens of millions — which means he would earn a number of multiples greater than the Chicago Fire’s Xherdan Shaqiri, at current the league’s highest-paid participant — he could be price each penny.

So will Messi land stateside? It appears an extended shot. The draw of returning to Barcelona is as highly effective because the tractor beam on the Dying Star, and a swansong along with his longtime membership appears the fitting transfer emotionally.

That is additionally a participant used to taking part in with the most effective, and that actuality has examined the persistence of many a international famous person. However Miami managing companion Jorge Mas is a person used to getting what he needs, regardless of how lengthy he has to attend. If he can wait 3½ years to get a stadium take care of town of Miami pushed by way of, what’s a couple of extra years for a money bonanza like Messi? This a lot is definite: Mas, together with Beckham, will preserve making an attempt. — Carlisle

Possibility 5: Keep at PSG

When Messi signed for PSG on a free switch final summer time, in what is going to go down as one of many largest transfers of all time, the need from the French membership was to safe him to a contract for 3 straight years. In the long run they needed to accept a two-year take care of the choice for one more, however proper now the plan is to maintain him in Paris for that third 12 months.

It’s going to rely so much on how his second season within the French capital goes, however there are excessive hopes inside the membership that if Messi enjoys subsequent season, he’ll wish to proceed the journey.

His first marketing campaign was a bit underwhelming at instances as a result of he wanted time to adapt to a brand new life and new environment, and since he did not shine (or rating) as a lot as he used to at Barcelona with 11 objectives and 15 assists from his 34 video games. However he completed the season nicely and has already stated himself that he expects his second 12 months on the membership to be a lot improved. If that’s the case, and if he feels that he’s nonetheless aggressive and that the crew might help him win one other Champions League trophy, then there will likely be extra of an opportunity that he sticks round.

Financially he’s large for PSG, and one other season with Messi means extra money coming in. The MNM (Messi, Neymar, Mbappe) trio provides big advertising and marketing worth for the Parisians and, from the membership’s viewpoint, it is crucial that Messi stays for a 3rd 12 months.

PSG nonetheless imagine they’ve extra of an opportunity to win the Champions League with him of their squad than with out him. — Laurens



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