Messi Leaves Camp Nou?

by Andi Sun

Potential destinations for Lionel Messi and other high-profile superstars in 2021

Lionel Messi: Barcelona → Manchester City

Google Images

Lionel Messi has spent his entire professional career in Barcelona, winning six Ballon d’Ors and becoming arguably the world’s best soccer player. However, after recent years of turmoil within the club, poor leadership from the board, and underwhelming performances in the Champions League, the Barcelona talisman has begun to look for prospects elsewhere. While Messi is wanted by virtually every club in the world, Manchester City seems to be the most likely suitor for the star. After all, reuniting with Pep Guardiola at a UCL contender club would be the most logical choice for Messi. Credited for being the manager that shaped Messi into the player he is today, Guardiola has one of the sharpest tactical minds on the planet. Given Guardiola’s previous relationship with Messi, a move to City would definitely be Messi’s best option.

Although the move in the summer transfer window was blocked due to terms in his release clause, Messi could leave in the January window. Ultimately, whether Messi chooses to leave or not will be determined through financial terms. Since Messi is at odds with club president Josep Bartomeu, Messi will most likely stay at Barcelona if Bartomeu stays. If Bartomeu wins his reelection at Barcelona, it is unlikely that Bartomeu will allow Messi to go without a fight. Bartomeu’s reelection will lead to one of two scenarios: either Messi agrees to stay and keep on playing for Barcelona, or an extensive legal battle will take place. Messi’s contract at Barcelona contains a release clause where he can choose to leave for free at the end of each season before June 10th. However, due to the special circumstances surrounding La Liga with Covid-19, the season did not end until July. Using this technicality, Bartomeu overruled Messi’s request to leave. With this, Messi’s only option is to stay at Barcelona or take the club to court. The most likely outcome is that Messi stays for the season and leaves next summer.

Ousmane Dembélé: Barcelona → Manchester United

Google Images

Another possible Barcelona transfer, Ousmane Dembélé has fallen out of favor at the club and has hardly seen playing time under manager Ronald Koeman. Needing to ease the pressure on their wage bill, Barcelona was looking to offload Dembélé to Manchester United this summerbut the deal fell through due to Dembélé’s refusal to leave. Although Dembélé rejected the move and decided to stay to try and fight for a place on the first team, there have been rumors that he is being frozen out of the club and not allowed to train or play. Although it won’t be surprising to see him leave in January to Manchester United like originally planned, it is unlikely that Manchester United will be looking for another attacker after signing Cavani. With Cavani already bolstering their attack, United would be better off putting their resources towards shoring up the defence, rather than bringing in another attacker by buying Dembélé.

Raphael Varane: Real Madrid → Manchester United

Google Images

A world-class defender with blistering pace and physical presence, Raphael Varane has won everything there is to win in Spain with Real Madrid. With his contract expiring in one year, Varane has refused to rule out an exit from Los Blancos. Although this could be a ploy to get a better contract extension, Varane may be genuinely looking for a new challenge, and Manchester United is desperately in need of a world-class defender. If Manchester United manages to secure a Champions League spot, this move looks quite promising and likely to happen, as winning the Champions League again with a different team will cement Varane’s status as one of the best defenders in the world.