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Where Does The Next Challenge Lie for Lionel Messi?

Fifteen years ago, a long-haired 17-year-old Lionel Messi took to the field for FC Barcelona at the famous Camp Nou against Albacete Balompie as a substitute on the 87th minute of the game. Playing on the left-wing, just two minutes since his substitution, Messi went on to score a sublime goal, courtesy a remarkable assist from Ronaldinho, though it was disallowed due to an off-side call. It was definitely a wrong decision as Messi was easily onside and had we had VAR in those days, that would have counted as his first senior goal for Barcelona.

Nevertheless, on the 91st minute of the same game, nobody could stop the little magician from achieving that milestone as he brilliantly chipped the ball over the keeper to register his first of many goals for the Catalan giants. The iconic celebration with Ronaldinho is etched forever in memories of all football fans and Lionel Messi was up and running in the Barcelona jersey. Since then, Messi is regarded as arguably the best ever to grace the sport. He has won a record six Ballon d’Or awards, a record six European Golden Shoes and a mammoth 33 trophies with his boyhood club, FC Barcelona.

Cut to 2020 and Lionel Messi doesn’t see his future at Barcelona anymore. As he is approaching his last phase of playing football at the highest level, he wants to move away from the club which has given him everything. It’s no surprise that Messi has requested the club to let him go elsewhere, considering the direction the club is heading to. It has been quite apparent that the Argentine doesn’t trust the current president and the board of the club. The humiliating 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League seems to have been the last nail in the coffin for Messi. Reports suggest that Messi hasn’t turned up for the mandatory COVID-19 testing ahead of the pre-season and has also missed the first few practice sessions under new coach Ronald Koeman. This saga will go on for some time for sure so let us analyse the clubs who could realistically afford to have someone like Messi playing for them.

 

MANCHESTER CITY

For all the football romantics out there, this move would make perfect sense as it’ll be the coming together of Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi once again. As per Messi’s words, his best time at Barcelona was when Guardiola was the man-in-charge of the Catalan giants. Similarly, Guardiola has never won the Champions League without Messi and this move could just help him win that trophy which the club and he so desperately seek. This seems like the perfect move for Messi and having him destroy Premier League defences will be a joy to watch for all the neutrals. City could draw the revenue required to bring Messi to the Etihad, which would also prove to be a big success commercially.

 

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

The French club definitely have the financial muscle to make this move happen with the backing of the Qatar group behind them. Neymar’s presence at the club will also be a factor which could lure Lionel Messi to PSG. During his time at Barcelona, the two built a strong bond both on and off the pitch. Just imagine a forward line of Neymar Jr, Kylian Mbappe and Messi. Who would want to defend against this trio? Having just fallen short of winning the Champions League, PSG may see Messi as the key to winning Europe’s most-wanted trophy.

 

JUVENTUS

Uniting Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be a dream of any football club. Juventus can make this happen and what a power move would that be for the Turin club. The Adidas backed club can have an Adidas sponsored player and this can come in handy for the move to transpire. New manager Andrea Pirlo has no managerial experience and this could see him developing a system to cater to both Ronaldo and Messi’s strength. Juventus seems exactly the kind of club which can have two of the best players playing for them and still not overshadow the club in general.

 

MANCHESTER UNITED

The Red Devils are actively looking for a right-sided winger and after failing to seal a move for Jadon Sancho, the situation is still unresolved. Messi could be exactly the player who United needs to get them back to their high standards of winning everything in world football. Another Adidas-backed club, Manchester United could be in pole position of getting the services of the world’s best player. It would be a match made in heaven for United and Messi could help re-build the club back to its glory days.

 

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