Is Barcelona really Lionel Messi's only European option if he leaves PSG?

Comments (0)
Lionel Messi PSG 2022
Getty Images
With it now looking more and more likely that the Argentine will depart Parc des Princes this summer, clubs are going to begin vying for his services

For the fourth game in a row, Barcelona fans at Camp Nou stopped singing club songs in the 10th minute as their side took on Atletico Madrid on Sunday. Instead, the 90,000 supporters in Barca shirts began chanting Lionel Messi's name, a chorus calling for the Argentine's return to Catalunya.

Club officials, meanwhile, have made no secret of their shared desire to bring Messi back to Camp Nou, publicly admitting in the past few weeks that they are in active negotiations to secure a sensational homecoming for a club legend.

And with a Paris Saint-Germain exit now looking increasingly likely, the Blaugrana might just fancy their chances.

After all, it does make a lot of sense. The door has always been open to a Barcelona reunion for Messi, especially given the fact that he never really wanted to leave anyway. Add to that the fact that Barca need someone to offer creativity in the final third, and there is a meeting of tactical sensibility and football romanticism here.

But there are other clubs out there who also wouldn't mind having Messi on their payroll, though it would be a complex agreement to come to. Messi would likely command wages in the range of his current PSG deal, with the Ligue 1 leaders paying him around €37 million (£33m/$41m) per year.

He would also need to be enticed by a viable sporting project. Champions League football is a bare minimum, and Messi would likely want to be in a situation where he could compete for a league title, too. That rules out most of Europe, with only a few clubs capable of making this deal happen.

But if not Barcelona, then who will Messi play for? GOAL takes a look at some of the Argentine's options...

  1. Manchester City

    Manchester City

    If Barcelona is the top destination for the football romantics, then Manchester City is arguably a close second.

    It was Pep Guardiola who truly unlocked Messi's greatness by famously deploying him in a false nine role, and a reunion with the City boss would be a tantalising prospect.

    There are a few tactical questions here. Primarily, where to fit Messi in a system geared towards Erling Haaland? Guardiola has tinkered to no end this season and seems to have finally settled on a line up that gets the best out of his side. And although Ilkay Gundogan and Bernardo Silva seem likely to depart this summer, Messi isn't a like-for-like replacement for either.

    Still, if there's anyone that can fit the pieces together, it's Messi's former boss. And City, financial issues due to state money notwithstanding, could certainly throw a massive salary at him.

  2. Manchester United
    Getty Images

    Manchester United

    United do not need any more attacking midfielders or wingers. Erik ten Hag is already spoilt for choice at the position, and Bruno Fernandes isn't getting kicked out of the XI anytime soon — no matter who comes in.

    But United have lamented their lack of goalscoring this season, despite Marcus Rashford's impressive return. And while Messi isn't the goalscorer he once was, his 800-plus career goals suggest that he can still pop up with one here and there. United also have enough defensive cover from midfield in the form of Casemiro for the Argentine to roam and create.

    There is expected to be financial leverage in some form. While the Glazer family haven't been as quick to sell as previously assumed, there will undoubtedly be money for investment this summer. But they might turn to a striker, perhaps Victor Osimhen or Harry Kane, before addressing other positions.

    This one is, admittedly, incredibly unlikely.

  3. Chelsea
    Getty Images


    The last time Chelsea tried to sign a superstar, it helped push a very good manager out of the door.

    But 36-year-old Messi is a different proposition than an immobile Cristiano Ronaldo. And there is a slither of reason behind this potentially working out.

    Chelsea are due for a massive summer clearout. Mason Mount, Conor Gallagher, Christian Pulisic, Hakim Ziyech, N'Golo Kante and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all unlikely to be playing at Stamford Bridge next year. Add to that the fact that Joao Felix might not make his loan move permanent, and Chelsea do indeed have room for another creative player.

    There will also be some connections here. Messi and Enzo Fernandez developed a terrific understanding for the national team, while Chelsea are expected to hire Messi's former PSG coach and fellow Argentine Mauricio Pochettino. Although the manager was let go in unspectacular terms from Parc des Princes, he has since revealed that he enjoyed working with the World Cup winner.

    Chelsea, like United, need a striker. But signing Messi would be a typical move for rookie owner Todd Boehly.

  4. Bayern Munich

    Bayern Munich

    Bayern have been something of a mess under new manager Thomas Tuchel. The Bavarians have struggled for both form and results, have crashed out of the Champions League and now find themselves sat in second place in the Bundesliga.

    The reasons for their poor run are many, but a lack of attacking quality certainly hasn't helped. While these problems aren't always solved by individuals, the insertion of Messi into Tuchel's 3-4-3 could certainly help.

    A Tuchel system would theoretically limit Messi's defensive responsibilities, too, with a hard-working wing-back outside him to offer cover. Add to that the fact that Bayern often face sides who like to sit in, and Messi seems an interesting tactical fit.

    There is, of course, the financial issue. Bayern were reluctant to shell out the necessary cash for a 21-year-old Haaland last summer, and it's hard to imagine them spending more on wages for an ageing Messi.

  5. Newcastle


    It is, indeed, hard to imagine Messi on Tyneside. But there are only a handful of clubs out there that can afford him, and Newcastle are one of them.

    This is no longer just a financial proposition. After getting massive investment from a Saudi Arabian-led group, Newcastle were supposed to build up through the Premier League over a number of years. European football was supposed to be a few seasons away for a team that wasn't too far removed from a relegation fight.

    Instead, under the tutelage of Eddie Howe, and with some shrewd investment, the Magpies are likely going to be playing Champions League football next year. And they've spent enough in the market so that a big-name signing could be on the cards.

    While Miguel Almiron enjoyed a remarkable start to the season, there is a better South American out there to play off the right-hand side, and Newcastle can afford him.

  6. Inter Miami

    Inter Miami

    There is, meanwhile, always the possibility that Messi turns his back on Europe all together.

    The Messi to MLS rumors have persisted despite his supposed interest in returning to Barcelona, and there is apparently a plan to make this happen, with the league itself vowing to raise the necessary cash to bring the Argentine to North America.

    It remains a possibility that Messi will finish his career in MLS, but it might be a year or two early for the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner to move across the pond. He still has a lot left to give at the European level and will need to continue to compete with the world's best if he is to play in the 2024 Copa America — as many expect him to.

    One for the future, perhaps.

  7. Al-Hilal
    Getty Images


    Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal have certainly made it clear that they're willing to make a financial commitment to get Messi to their ever-improving league.

    They reportedly offered Messi a contract that would double the £177m-per-year ($215m) Al-Nassr are paying Ronaldo.

    There is, indeed, a massive commercial benefit to this one. Ronaldo is set to be in Saudi Arabia until at least 2024 — barring an unexpected European move. If Messi is to accept the big money deal, he and Ronaldo would square off a handful of times, with something to play for, before both of their careers end.

    But like MLS, a transfer to a less competitive league might be premature for a player who still has a lot to give at the top level.