In football, it’s rare to find a player who finishes his career as a ‘one-club man’ but with Lionel Messi heading towards his 33rd birthday, the Argentinian may be set to join an exclusive list. Since making his professional debut in 2004, the striker has stayed loyal to Barcelona and the number of clubs that could prise him away from the Nou Camp is a very small one.
One issue for any potential suitors is the likely transfer fee and the wage bills. Hundreds of millions of euros could be spent on Messi’s services and that would rule out the majority of teams in world football.
Barca fans will clearly hope that Messi sees out his career with the Catalan giants. Since making his first team debut, the club has won La Liga on no fewer than ten previous occasions. In addition there have been six Copa Del Rey triumphs and four Champions League titles.
With Messi in the side, Barcelona top the markets as far as La Liga betting odds are concerned but that relative lack of Champions League trophies mean that challenges remain. Will the Argentinian stay to take up the quest or is it time for one of the world greats to move on?
Of the small pool of clubs that could meet Messi’s transfer fee and wage demands, Manchester United and Manchester City are there to represent England. With multi-billionaire owners behind them, both clubs have pulled off some stunning deals in the recent past but a move for Messi would comfortably break their existing transfer records.
It may be a little surprising to learn that City’s biggest fee to date is a relatively modest £63.6 million paid to Atletico Madrid for the services of Rodri in 2019. By comparison, the club’s owners would need to pay more than three times that amount if Messi were to come onto the market.
Another possibility in the EPL involves Liverpool who are another set of big spenders. The attraction of the English Premier League involves a competitive division and football of a high standard but can the same be said about other potential moves?
Clubs in China, Russia and the USA could certainly afford to find the necessary wages to secure the transfer of Lionel Messi but would such a move appeal to the Argentinian superstar? Recently, the great Zlatan Ibrahimovic enjoyed a spell in MLS with LA Galaxy and, at the age of 38, the Swedish striker finished his Stateside spell with a scoring record that came close to a goal a game.
Competitive football could still be provided by clubs in mainland Europe and Paris Saint-Germain are another side who can meet the financial demands. Having already broken the world transfer record in taking Messi’s former teammate Neymar to the French capital, another raid on Barca is possible. Of course, Messi could yet retire as a one-club man and, given the very small pool of clubs that could afford him, that remains a distinct possibility.