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Messi on the move: Could he help 45/1 Man City win the quad?
Alex Wrigley
Alex Wrigley
August 6, 2021
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Content Editor at Free Super Tips, Alex was born in the shadow of Old Trafford and is an avid Man Utd fan. After graduating from university he combined his love of football, writing and betting to join FST and now closely follows goings-on in all of the top European leagues.

Barcelona shook the footballing world to its core on Thursday evening as they announced that Lionel Messi’s contract renewal was ‘impossible’ and stated that the Camp Nou legend would leave the club after over two decades at the Catalan giants.

Messi, who’s contract expired at the start of July, looked set to sign a contract renewal with Barca but their financial issues and La Liga’s strict salary cap has left them unable to register any new players, including the likes of Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia, Memphis Depay and Emerson.

There are very few clubs in world football that can afford to sign the 34-year-old superstar and here we take a look at his main suitors and discuss how he would change their outlook.

Is Messi still worth it?

The short answer is yes.

Messi might be 34 years of age but his attacking output is still up there with the best in world football and last season he pretty much carried a relatively mediocre Barcelona side.

He scored more goals (30) than any other player in La Liga, with the next best being Gerard Moreno and Karim Benzema with 23 apiece. But with Messi you get the complete package and his exceptional ability to find the net is only part of the story.

He completed more dribbles per game (4.5) than any other player, was fouled (2.8 per game) more than any other player, had more goal-creating actions (38) and shot-creating actions (241) than any other player and had more shots (190) and shots on target (85) than any other player. He is without a doubt still the best attacking player in the world.

Of course, with advancing years come tired legs and he can’t press off the ball as intensely as he once could, but his attacking output is so good that it’s worth having him as a passenger without the ball.

How much would he cost?

There might be no transfer fee involved but Lionel Messi will not come cheaply, which is no less than you can expect from a six-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Agent fees and signing-on fees are likely to cost at least £40 million alone and his wage demands will be nothing short of astronomical.

He reportedly earned a base salary of around £440,000 per week during his last contract with Barcelona. He did agree to a pay cut of 50% for his new five-year contract at Barcelona before the deal collapsed, but he’s unlikely to be that lenient with any new mega-rich suitors.

Clubs will expect to be paying half-a-million per week in wages alone if they want to get their hands on one of the greatest players of all time.

Where could he go and what would it mean?

PSG at 3/10

It’s hardly a surprise to see the gulf state-backed PSG top of the list and all early signs point towards him heading to France this month.

Reports suggest Messi has already reached out to fellow Argentine and PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino about a move to the Parisian giants and he’s made no secret of his desire to reunite with former Barca teammate Neymar in the past.

PSG are one of the few clubs that could afford to bring Messi on board, despite their claims to the contrary on Thursday evening, and with Messi keen on a move they certainly look the most likely destination.

What would it mean? Just one of the greatest attacking trios in world football. The prospect of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe combining to tear Ligue 1 apart is mouth-watering and it could have the added benefit of convincing Mbappe that a move to Real Madrid isn’t what he wants this summer.

Les Parisiens came agonisingly close to their ultimate goal of a Champions League title two seasons ago and followed that silver medal with just their second semi-final appearance last season. Add Messi to the equation and they suddenly look like potential Champions League winners.

Barcelona at 13/5

Yes, you read that right.

This could very well be a high-risk play to try and force La Liga to ease their strict salary cap restrictions and let Barcelona continue to overspend.

Messi is understandably the biggest draw La Liga has to offer and him leaving the Spanish top flight would hugely damage their brand. Whether they will finally back down remains to be seen, but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

Manchester City at 5/1

A reunion with former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola has long been discussed but Manchester City have twice been spurned in their attempts to sign Messi and their British transfer record signing of Jack Grealish on Thursday night suggests they will not be making a third attempt.

Messi would, of course, fit well into Guardiola’s side and would likely be utilised in a false-nine role, reducing the need for them to sign current target Harry Kane.

It does look unlikely he will be heading to the Etihad but if he does it would certainly see Man City’s odds shorten in all four competitions, bearing in mind they’re already priced as favourites in every one of those.

Any MLS club at 13/1

The MLS has been touted as a possible destination for Messi but it doesn’t look likely to happen just yet, although the player himself is thought to be keen on a move there in the future.

He enjoys spending time in the United States and it would allow him to move closer to his native Argentina, but he still has a lot left to give at the top level and he would need to reduce his demands significantly.

That being said, if he did end up stateside he would undoubtedly turn whichever club he signed for into MLS champions. We’ve already seen what the likes of Javier Hernandez, Nani and Cristian Pavon can do in that league, so Messi would absolutely tear it apart.

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