Ladies and gentlemen, the unthinkable is about to happen. After nearly 20 years of dutiful service and absolute domination by every metric imaginable, Lionel Messi has asked to be transferred away from his beloved Barcelona. To quote the great Dr. Peter Venkman from “Ghostbusters”, we are approaching a “disaster of biblical proportions” inside the Camp Nou and a state of “mass hysteria” all around the football world, never mind inside Barcelona city itself.
It’s hard to overstate just how massive this is on the world’s stage. For as long as I can remember, Leo Messi has donned the blue and red. Over his 16 year career with the first team, he’s staked his claim as not only Barca’s greatest player, but maybe even the greatest footballer in the sport’s history. He’s won countless individual awards, including six Ballon d’Ors, but he’s also led his club through their most legendary period.
From 2004 to 2020, he brought them 10 league titles, six Copa del Reys, seven Supercopas, four Champions Leagues, three Super Cups, and three Club World Cups. His resume reads like the 12 Labors of Hercules and his stories read like Bible verses. In fact, there are times when I thought he was akin to those from antiquity, and then I’d just turn on the TV to find that it’s all true and that he’s actually real.
So with his departure from Barcelona just about secure, I wanted to take the time to list off 10 potential places that may be lucky enough to bring him in. This is not to say that these are the only options, but given his wage demands and other circumstances, I feel that this is a good group to focus on right now. Of course if any massive updates do arise, we will be here to tell you.
In the meantime, be sure to let us know on any of our social media platforms if I missed any teams.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better football team in the world right now than super Bayern Munich. Not only did they obliterate every opposing team on their path to winning the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, AND the Champions League, but they did so even after starting the 2019-20 campaign in some dire straights. However, after they hired Hansi Flick as their interim, and later permanent manager, the club found its identity again and they simply forgot how to lose.
It’s hard to imagine that they don’t have the funds or the interest to bring in another attacking threat like Messi, and it would sure be a massive way to extend Bayern’s already massive reach even more.
This is to say that Bayern doesn’t necessarily need someone as transcendent as Messi to add to their already dominating attack or their checkbook, but wouldn’t it be amazing to watch Messi team up with Robert Lewandowski and company for a few seasons?
Any list of big market clubs with mountains of cash to spend would be incomplete without including the denizens of Stamford Bridge. So far this summer, Frank Lampard’s club has already spent top dollar on a pair of exciting talents in Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, but if we know anything about the Blues, it’s that they always have their wallets opened up.
In some ways I can’t describe, it almost feels like Messi is destined to play at Chelsea. They’re a massive club run by a legendary player. They play in a massive European city. And they have a brand that is only rivaled by a handful of other football clubs. No offense to any Arsenal and Tottenham supporter, but Chelsea is the prime destination for any internationally known footballer in today’s game.
Also, this could give us Americans the ability to witness the greatest player of all time team up with Captain America himself, Christian Pulisic, for a few years.
Here we have our first “Hail Mary” on the list. Inter Miami has barely even begun their life as a football club, but they already have the pizazz to potentially intrigue any player from around the world to join. The club was founded by David Beckham and the former Manchester United superstar has made it clear that they want players like Messi on their books.
A few weeks ago, Miami brought in longtime Juventus star Blaise Matuidi, and they’re reportedly speaking to Messi’s best friend Luis Suarez for a move as well. While it seems a bit farfetched to believe that Messi is ready to leave Europe for the states right now, some of the dominos are starting to fall into place. So we’ll add them in and see what happens.
One of the more interesting clubs on this list is Inter Milan. This past season, Antonio Conte’s club finished just one point behind Juventus to secure their first Serie A title in a decade and they nearly defeated Sevilla to win the Europa League. These two near misses will be sure to invigorate and excite Inter’s rabid fan base that desperately want to complete the transformation from secondary club in Milan to the new Italian giant and they could do no better than by bringing in the GOAT himself.
Another reason why Inter would be a fun destination for Messi is that it would reignite one of the greatest personal rivalries in team sports, the one between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. After Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus in 2018, it felt as if Messi, and football itself, lost something. Maybe if he decides to make the move to Northern Italy, it could actually make Serie A more interesting to the neutral fan.
Okay, this might seem about as crazy as Liverpool signing Sergio Ramos or Tottenham hiring Jose Mourinho (wait…), but hear me out on this one. As I just said, the personal rivalry between Messi and Ronaldo is historic and worthy of countless essays and books from here to eternity. But just imagine for a second how it would look to see the two greatest footballers of a generation team up and wreak havoc in Serie A for another half decade.
Not for nothing, but this combination might be able to do the seemingly impossible and help Juve win their first Champions League trophy since 1996. If that doesn’t finally win them the biggest competition in Europe, who knows what will?
Another dark horse in the Leo Messi sweepstakes are defending Premier League champions Liverpool. Ever since Jurgen Klopp made his move from Borussia Dortmund to Merseyside about five years ago, he’s shown to not be afraid to spend money when it’s sorely needed. In January 2018, he spent 75 million pounds for defender Virgil van Dijk and later on in July he spent another 56 million for goalkeeper Alisson Becker. Both of these fees were records for players at their respective positions at the time of purchase and both of them worked out in spades.
With that being said, Liverpool have been less willing to shell out chunks of cash for players since they won the Champions League in 2019. Perhaps one of the reasons they were willing to spend all that money before was because they had only recently sold Phil Coutinho over to Barcelona around the same time and so they had some capital to work with. Instead of spending all the money they can now, they seem more determined to invest in youth player progression, similar to how Barcelona itself used to do things when Messi was growing up in La Masia.
Perhaps that shift in philosophy would be enough to lure Messi into signing a deal to go to Anfield. His weekly fee could be an insurmountable hurdle for Fenway Sports Group, but the benefits of having Messi could go a long way into making the final decision, as it would for all the teams on this list.
Perhaps the favorite to sign Messi at this time, Manchester City are understandably on this list. It goes without saying that City are always eager to spend enormous amounts of money every summer, but the real reason they are a front runner right now is because of the man in charge at the moment, Pep Guardiola.
For those who don’t know, Pep has managed at three clubs so far. Before he started up at Man City in 2016, he spent three seasons at Bayern Munich. But even before that, he was the gaffer at Barcelona. From 2008 to 2012, the Spaniard led Barca during their greatest period of the 21st century so far. He oversaw three La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys, three Supercopas, two Champions Leagues, two Super Cups, and two Club World Cups.
Imagine if Pep reunited with his former superstar and Messi reunited with his greatest ever manager. It would spell doom not only for every other team in the Premier League, but probably every other club in Europe. Perhaps this is the move City needs to make in order to finally win their first Champions League trophy.
If anything does signal a possible move, it’ll be if City start to off load some players so that they can adhere to the Financial Fair Play rules. They were already “punished” for breaking these rules before, so you’d hope that they’ll be wary of facing off with FIFA’s lawyers once again.
Of course wherever Manchester City lurk, you’d be sure to know that Manchester United are soon to follow. Back in the day, that idea would confuse many, but we now live in a world where the once proud Man United play second fiddle in their own town. Even though they do field some intriguing stars like Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes, as well as youngster Marcus Greenwood, they are in dire need of some fire power. And Messi could be that answer.
Now here’s the thing. In theory, this move could be made pretty easily given United’s almost bottomless pockets filled with money. But if they are unwilling to meet in the middle with Borussia Dortmund in order to bring in Jadon Sancho, then how could they conceivably have the audacity to come anywhere close to Messi?
Well, if one thing’s for sure, United are a team that have time and time again surprised the football world. This is the club that spend around 90 million pounds to bring back Paul Pogba in 2016 and this is the team that broke the transfer record for defenders just last year when they spent 80 million on “Slabhead” Harry Maguire. So who’s to say that they won’t be willing to go for broke to bring in someone as dominant and marketable as Messi?
If I was Messi, which I’m sadly not, I would seriously consider whatever offer comes down from Paris Saint-Germain. Not because winning Ligue One would be this rewarding experience or that he’ll play for a club that has this long and storied history, but because of what’s happening there right now.
Not only does PSG have an exciting young manager in Thomas Tuchel and recent success on the continental stage, headlined by a trip to the Champions League final this past week, but they also have two world class goal scorers in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe who would absolutely flourish with Messi in the mix. Think of this potential trio like the reincarnation of MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar) from the early 2010s but even better!
Many in the world football community were readying ourselves to see Messi and Neymar reunite, but not at all in the way it actually could go at this point. Neymar might not have to go back to Camp Nou to play with Messi again.
I’ve got to be honest with this one, this just feels wrong to me on a deep level. Never mind the fact that this one decision could very well overshadow everything he’s ever done previous, just like it did to Luis Figo 20 years ago, but it would put into question just how bad things got at the Camp Nou to force this particular move. If Messi was to transfer to Real Madrid, I genuinely don’t see Barca recovering from it for years to come.
With that being said, it’s important to look at the other side. If Real Madrid was to do the unthinkable and bring in Messi, their most hated individual adversary, it would instantly make them a favorite to win every single possible trophy during his tenure at the club. As they are the largest football club in the world, the decision isn’t if they can bring in Messi, it’s if they want to.
BONUS: Newell’s Old Boys
Let’s finish this with a sentimental choice. When Messi was growing up in Argentina, he said that he always wanted to play for Newell’s Old Boys, a club based in his hometown of Rosario. And while he did start his youth career with “The Lepers”, (yes, that’s their real nickname) he was quickly snatched up by Barcelona’s once famed La Masia youth academy and the rest is history.
It’s unlikely that the 33-year-old is ready to make the transition from playing against top European competition to appearing in the weaker Argentine Primera Division, but I wanted to bring up this club because they could very well be Messi’s final destination, whenever that is.
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Featured Image – AP Photo/Manu Fernandez/Pool