What If Leo Messi Left Barcelona?


He was raised the boy wonder of La Masia; Lionel Messi rose in Barcelona's image to conquer the world, and entertained us all in the process. The great Catalan club has served the greatest footballer of his generation with the ultimate platform for his genius.

But a football marriage that we once took for granted is suddenly looking precarious. Rumours of Messi's unhappiness at Barcelona are escaping from too many corridors to ignore them.

Barcelona are no longer the force they were, but it's not just that. There are relationship issues and Messi's frustrations are seeping out of every channel connected to him. It might even be that Barcelona themselves are driving a possible sale - football remains a business after all and Messi is worth A LOT OF MONEY (€250 million being his reported buyout fee).

Ergo, the possibility of Messi leaving Barca is no longer resigned to your next season on Football Manager. It could happen as soon as summer 2015 and we really do have to start considering a world where Messi plays for another club.

The big question, of course, is which one?

 

Bayern Munich

The romance runs strong with this one. It would put Messi back together with the man who's done more to shape his career than perhaps anybody else, Pep Guardiola.

Bayern are financially buoyant and the adidas connection - sponsors of both player and club - could also be a facilitator to the move happening.

Imagining Messi in Guardiola's current side comes comfortably from a tactical viewpoint, and would certainly be a frightening proposition for the rest of Europe.

"It would be the end of football," said Diego Maradona, of this very possibility in 2013.

Thankfully for Maradona, I can't see it happening. Guardiola has loyalties to Barcelona, and has also talked of the pressures that came with managing the most famous player on the planet during his time there. Messi, meanwhile, is unlikely to swap La Liga for a domestic competition with a lower profile globally.

 

Chelsea

Much would be made of Chelsea's philosophical differences to Barcelona if Messi choose south west London as his next home, but there's no doubt he'd be arriving at one of the three strongest clubs in Europe.

We also know that despite being on different sides of the Clasico rivalry, Messi has great respect for Jose Mourinho. He rates him highly as a coach and may yearn for a big character to take this next stage of his career forward.

According to the Daily Express Chelsea tried to pull off this deal in the summer, but Messi was not for the turning. It looks a whole lot more likely now, with Messi unhappy and Chelsea romping away with the Premier League title.

The draw of London is always strong for foreign players and Chelsea's base for prolonged success looks a solid one right now. It might just happen, particularly as Messi is now following Chelsea and some of their players on Instagram.

 

Manchester City

To rule this one out is to forget who Messi's friends are. City stars Sergio Aguero (Messi's BFF), Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis are all team-mates for Argentina. Yaya Toure is also a former team-mate of course, from his time at Barcelona.

And then there's Txiki Begiristain, City's sporting director, who worked in a similar capacity at Barcelona from 2003 until 2010 - pretty good years for the club and the career of Messi you may remember.

City's financial fair play considerations will be raised, but if we look purely at the footballing angle there's much to admire about the way the club are building for the future and a big opportunity for Messi to define it.

A squad packed with world-class stars, who will lose their title to Chelsea and may go out of the Champions League in the group stage. What better boost next summer than signing Messi? And what a chance for Messi to add to his legacy by being the man who made it happen for them.

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Manchester United

A similar "play the saviour" theme for Messi here, but with the added draw of United's global prestige and the fact it's an historic club people put on the same pedestal as Barcelona.

And there's the disgustingly rich adidas kit deal that starts next season for United. Could that sway an almighty splurge for the best player on the planet, and adidas' most bankable asset?

You'd think United have already spent enough on attacking talent to countenance it, but if they can't get Ronaldo vanity may lead them to Messi.

Its worth noting Messi once said playing with Wayne Rooney would "be a dream" and that he'd do anything for Barcelona to sign him.

  

Paris Saint-Germain

We all know WHY people link Messi to PSG, but does anybody truly believe he’d consider them?

The French champions play in a comparatively weak league, one that draws less attention than those in England, Spain, Italy and Germany, and they still feel like a work in progress on the European stage.

Moreover, PSG have pinned their brand on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a man who couldn't stand playing in Messi's shadow while the two were together at Barcelona.

Not. Going. To. Happen.

 

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