Is Messi getting ready to pack his bags and leave Barcelona?

Published: January 19, 2015
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Lionel Messi is the all-time leading goal scorer in La Liga and in the history of the UEFA Champions League with 72 goals, breaking Raul Gozalez’s record.

The year 2015 hasn’t started so well for the 27-years-old Argentinean, Lionel Messi, who lost the Ballon d’Or award to his rival, Ronaldo. Last year, however, was a great year for Messi; from becoming the all-time leading goal scorer in La Liga (and in the history of the UEFA Champions League with 72 goals) breaking Raul Gozalez’s record, to captaining his Argentinean side in the FIFA World Cup, making it to the final against the World Cup Champions, Germany, he had done it all.

Messi, who has been a Barcelona player through the academy ranks and made his debut in 2004, has been a very content and loyal player for FC Barcelona. But that statement doesn’t hold its ground anymore.  Rumour has it that it was after a training row between Barcelona Coach, Luis Enrique, and Messi took place that Messi was benched in the game against Real Sociedad – which Barcelona lost. This casted a cloud of uncertainty over Messi’s future as Camp Nou. The club’s president had to intervene to solve the unpredictable condition, all the while denying rumours surrounding the intensity of the row and possibility of the player transferring out. Messi, on the other hand, when asked about his future in Barcelona at the Ballon d’Or ceremony, voiced his doubt saying,

“I have always said I will end my career at Barcelona but as Cristiano said, only God knows the future. Things in football can change overnight.”

Soon after, a debate regarding Messi’s move from Barcelona arose and speculations about which club he will join, from Real Madrid, Manchester city, Chelsea, PSG and Manchester United, took flight. Considering the potential clubs, financial experts explain that Real Madrid and Manchester United are the only clubs that will be able to afford Messi outright and assure financial fair play. To me, however, it looks highly unlikely that Messi will join Barca’s fierce rivals, Real Madrid, and so that leaves United as a favourite to land the Argentinean captain for a record of £195 million. United is so adamant on signing Messi that Manager Louis Van Gaal has been assured by club owners that there is no limit on the transfer budget. Similarly, Ed Woodward, executive vice-chairman of Manchester United, stated,

“Whether it’s a (world) record or not doesn’t really resonate with us. What resonates is an elite player that the manager wants who is going to be a star for Manchester United.”

With recent news of transfers including Gareth Bale and Ronaldo, the owners of United, the Glazers, and Woodward are looking to buy top-ranked players to make United the best football club. With Ronaldo lurking closely behind Messi in terms of Ballon d’Or titles, missing by just one award, and having the potential to be United’s future lead, Messi will not want to let an opportunity to lead United slip from his hands.

All this depends on now is what Messi thinks is the best move for him. If Messi decides to join United, he will have former Argentinean team mate, and United’s all time £59.7 million record transfer of, Angel Di Maria to play alongside him and have reputable back up in the form of Juan Mata, María, Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney playing behind him.

Honestly speaking, at this point in time I don’t see Messi taking the risk of transferring out to a new league, let alone to a club like United. The club is not guaranteed a place in the UEFA Champions league for next season and is still struggling to find a balance with Van Gaal still having a hard time trying to cope with the legacy of legendary Manager Sir Alex Ferguson. On the other hand, it will also be incredibly difficult for Messi to leave a club like Barcelona where he is loved, respected and immortalised by his fans.

I think this transfer is highly unlikely, but you never know. And like Messi said,

“Things in football can change overnight.”

The one thing we do know for certain though, is that this year Messi and Ronaldo will battle each other like never before to acquire next year’s ‘player of the year’ title along with trying to win other accolades for their respective clubs. May the better man win!

Bilal Muzaffar

Bilal Muzaffar

A freelance sports writer who would like to work as a professional sports analyst in the future and is currently doing his MS. A big football fan who also enjoys watching F1, tennis and cricket. He tweets @bilal__mu (twitter.com/bilal__mu)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.