THE SPECULATIONS are never-ending, not at least until closure comes in the Lionel Messi saga. The Barcelona and Argentina captain, per recent reportage, has asked to leave Barcelona before his current deal expires at the end of next season.
With that, former Premier League champions Manchester City have emerged as the club who are in pole position to make a stunning swoop for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner. That is, should Messi quit Barca this summer as reports have suggested. In the current season, Messi’s future first came into question after a heated public spat with club sporting director Eric Abidal, over a number of widely reported issues.
But may things finally have come to a head at Camp Nou? Maybe, as talks that the 33-year-old may now be ready to quit the Spanish club intensified after they were humiliated in an 8-2 devastation by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals on Friday. And according to The Daily Mirror, City are ready to do “whatever it takes” to reunite Messi with Pep Guardiola, albeit in England.
Messi had a clause in his Barcelona contract that would have allowed him to leave on a free transfer at the end of the summer. However, the clause expired at the end of May and with his current buyout clause reportedly standing at an astonishing £635m (R14.4 billion).
“If he is considering leaving the club, then something must not be good in the Barcelona dressing room, and perhaps he is tired with all the constant problems that have surrounded the club in the last few months,” said Brazilian legend Rivaldo, suggested last month that there could be a temptation for Messi to reunite with Guardiola at City.
“When Messi’s contract ends, he will be 34. But with his class, I think he could still easily play in the Premier League. It will be sad to see him leaving Barcelona once his contract ends eventually, but I still hope that he can stay for now.”
Rivaldo added: “Despite his connection to [Barcelona], he has the right to move if he wants, and reuniting with Pep Guardiola at City will be tempting for him, as the two of them formed a great coach and player partnership at Barca.”