Lionel Messi reportedly had a phone conversation with the football manager of Manchester City, Pep Guardiola, less than a week after Barcelona’s 8-2 defeat in the hands of Bayern Munich in the quarter-final stage of the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League campaign.
Though the details of their phone discussion were not made public, it is believed that their discussion is centered around his planned move to the Premier League club this summer.
Pep Guardiola and Messi worked together between 2008 and 2012. During that period, the Spanish tactician coached Messi and other football maestros to win three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey, three Supercopa, two UEFA Champions League, two UEFA Champions League, and two FIFA Club World Cup.
The period Guardiola was the manager of Barcelona is seen as the golden moment of the club in the 21st century. Since he left the club in 2012 and joined Bayern Munich in 2013 and then Manchester City in 2016, the club has not been able to have a consistent coach comparable to the Spanish tactician.
This situation became worsen in the just concluded 2019-2020 season under Quique Setien. The Spanish tactician led the club through a trophy-less season for the first time since 2004 when Messi got his breakthrough at the club. The club’s trophy-less season was worsened by the humiliating defeat they suffered in the hands of German Bundesliga champions in early August.
Though the catastrophic season led to the sacking of Coach Quique Setien and the technical manager of the club Eric Abidal, the sacking of those men might not change Lionel Messi’s decision to leave the club.
The current state of Barcelona’s relationship with Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi has spent all the golden years of his football career at Barcelona. He has been playing and winning with the club since 2004. Now, the 33-year-old Argentine football icon wants to try a new challenge.
After a lingering series of speculations that Messi intends to leave Barcelona this summer, the Argentine football icon sent a fax to the club to officially inform them of his decision to exit the club. From all indications, Barca are not ready to let him go despite having less than a year on his current contract with the club.
Messi reportedly wants to trigger the aspect of his 2017 contract which gives him the power to walk away from the club at the end of every season for free. On the other hand, Barcelona reportedly argued that such a condition had expired since June 2020 which means that they would not allow Messi to exit the club for free.
If Messi is not able to trigger his free transfer clause, the only clause that will be left for him to trigger will be his release clause which is €700 million. This means that any club that wants to sign him between now until June 2021, when his current contract with Barcelona officially expires, the club must pay such an outrageous amount of money.
What is the next destination for Messi: The most likely options
It is clear that Messi could leave Barcelona in three ways – free transfer, in a record transfer fee, or through a legal battle. In whichever way he ends up leaving Spain, what football fans would want to see is where next would he go for a new challenge.
It has already been stated that the Argentine forward has made contact with the coach of Manchester City, this means the Premier League club could be a likely destination. City have the money to make the deal possible but it will be impossible to make such a deal if they must pay for his release clause.
Besides just being able to afford Messi, another thing the club would take into consideration is the UEFA Financial Fair Play rules which stressed that clubs must not spend more than their revenue. City almost got banned from playing in the UEFA Champions League for breaching the FFP rules and they might not want to fall into the same trap anytime soon.
Even if Messi joins the club as a free agent, the club would have to check their books critically to ensure that if they continue to pay Messi the over €565-per-week wages he has been earning in Barcelona since 2017, they would not be breaching the Financial Fair Play rules rule.
Besides Manchester City, another club that can buy Messi is French Ligue 1 champions, Paris Saint Germain. The manager of the club, Thomas Tuchel, had said that the Argentine football maestro would be welcomed at the club.
As it stands, it is left to see whether Barcelona especially the newly appointed football manager of the club, Ronald Koeman would allow the club’s talisman and 6 times Ballon d’Or winner to leave Camp Nou this summer.