Lionel Messi has long been regarded as the best footballer on the planet, since bursting on to the scene for Barcelona’s first team back in 2004. It was former Catalans coach Frank Rijkaard that handed the Argentine his senior debut at the Nou Camp and kicked off what would become a truly illustrious career at the pinnacle of the sport.
Messi quickly established himself as a future star within the Barca ranks and shot to stardom with his incredible dribbling skills, a silky left foot and his dynamic ability going forward. Since becoming the club’s then-record youngest goalscorer in history, Messi has rallied to huge success on Spanish soil.
The 30-year-old is Barcelona’s all-time record scorer in all competitions and has racked up an impressive haul of five Ballon d’Or wins. Despite all of his immense success at the Nou Camp, Messi has lately been linked with a sensational move away from his one and only senior club, following 13 years of service there.
The Catalan giants are involved in another battle for La Liga supremacy against main title rivals Real Madrid, while close contenders Atletico Madrid may have a say on proceedings too this season. See here for the latest odds for the football season across Europe, including Sky Bet’s Super 6, which can be backed every week and features games from Spain’s La Liga.
Barcelona endured a tough summer as they lost one of their key players to PSG, with Brazil international superstar Neymar arriving in Paris from the Nou Camp for a world-record fee of over £200 million. The Brazil captain left his former club in order to pursue success in France with the Parisians and become the main man at the Ligue 1 outfit, having played second fiddle to Messi for many seasons.
With Neymar having departed for a mammoth fee, one that has changed the landscape of the future football transfer windows, the reports that Messi could soon leave too is a worrying thought for the Nou Camp faithful. Incredibly, Barca have allowed Messi’s current contract at the club to run into its final year, with the Argentina star set to be available on a free transfer next summer when his deal eventually comes to a daunting close.
With the world’s best player set to be on offer for nothing, there will be a host of clubs on red alert around Europe. The likes of French giants PSG and England top-flight powerhouse Manchester City were previously seen as the only club that were potentially able to afford his enormous transfer fee and substantial wages. But next summer, if Barca do not act fast, Messi could be offered up for absolutely nothing.
The Spanish giants will surely be working hard behind the scenes in order to agree a new long-term contract for their main man and skipper to sign, but it’s unknown if he genuinely wants to stay or possibly pursue a career elsewhere for a new adventure across Europe or beyond. The thought of losing Messi to another rival club is a truly worrying one and there are plenty set to be circling for his eventual signature next summer if the worst comes to the worst at the time.
Even Real Madrid could be involved in potentially trying to lure him away to the Bernabeu, with the club’s president having recently admitted that he was previously interested in acquiring him as a youngster many years ago. The president stated that he was keen to snap Messi up during his maiden spell in charge during 2000, before the Argentine became a megastar of football in Spain.
Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham were all involved at the club at the time, during the Galacticos era, which would have made for a truly interesting team of stars.
“In my very first spell as the president I probably would have attempted to sign Leo Messi,” he told Spanish media. “If the player had existed [as he currently does now as a superstar] when I was first president, he’s exactly the kind of attacker that we would have signed.”
For now, Lionel Messi is still a key component of the Barcelona setup and will continue to help them fight for Spanish success this season until a new contract can hopefully be agreed.