Where next for Lionel Messi?

Lionel Messi has decided leave with Barcelona and the Argentine seems to have a list of suitors waiting for his signature in Manchester City, Real Madrid, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

Lionel Messi

Under the terms of the his current contract with Barcelona which expires in 2021, the only way Lionel Messi can leave without the club's consent is if a rival side pays his release clause of 700 million euros ($828 million).   -  Getty Images

Lionel Messi dropped a bombshell on Wednesday by telling Barcelona he wanted to part ways with the club he has represented since the beginning of his stellar career.

Messi reportedly informed the club of his decision via a burofax, a service used in Spain to urgently dispatch a document that requires proof to third parties.

The burofax had referred to a clause in the last contract the 33-year-old Argentine signed with the club which allowed him to leave for free, a clause that expired on June 10 this year.

 

Under the terms of the contract which expires in 2021, the only way Messi can leave without the club's consent is if a rival side pays his release clause of 700 million euros ($828 million).

We take a look at the possible avenues for Messi -

Manchester City

Multiple reports have suggested that Messi has been in touch with City manager Pep Guardiola and could very well make his way to the Etihad. The two share a good rapport, having spent four years together when Guardiola coached the Catalan club.

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Adding to it is the fact that City is one of the few cash-rich teams across the globe that can comfortably afford to pay Messi's wages. With Guardiola eager to claim domestic and European glory next season, City's star-studded team could use some Messi magic.

Paris Saint-Germain

Barcelona sold Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for a record transfer fee of €222 million. Will Messi warrant a higher fee if he were to move to the French side?

PSG has enjoyed a fine few years, establishing its dominance in domestic football and finishing runner-up in the Champions League this season.

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Neymar has been the standout player and received ample support from the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria. However, Messi's arrival could propel the side into a whole new dimension. And needless to say, the club's Qatari backers would be more than happy to bring the Argentine legend on board.

Real Madrid

Messi could emulate Luis Figo and seal a move to Barca's arch-nemesis Real Madrid. Madrid, which won the La Liga this season, has managed to partially fill the void left by Cristiano Ronaldo's departure through Karim Benzema and Messi could further help in that regard.

Madrid has the financial prowess to be an option and club president Florentino Perez has previously expressed his intentions of someday coercing Messi to join his side.

Juventus

Now this would be a surprise, but who wouldn't want to see Messi and Ronaldo wear the same jersey? Juve has established itself as Italy's top side by bagging its ninth straight title and has got a new manager on board in Andrea Pirlo.

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Juve would have the ultimate bragging rights if it can field Messi and Ronaldo, who have 11 World Player of the Year awards among them, in its roster.

Inter Milan

Juve's rival Inter could also stake a claim for Messi's signature. The rumour mill has been suggesting a swap deal that would see Lautaro Martinez head to Camp Nou, while Messi moves to the San Siro.

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With Inter hungry to end Juve's dominance, the side would certainly be interested in the Barca legend.

Chelsea

Former Manchester United Rio Ferdinand defender kicked up a storm on Twitter by suggesting that Frank Lampard also had his eyes on Messi.

 

However, a move to Chelsea appears rather unlikely given that the Premier League club has already roped in Timo Werner and is strongly rumoured to sign Kai Havertz too.

Major League Soccer

Many an iconic footballer, from David Beckham to Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Villa have found green pastures in the United States' MLS.

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Ibrahimovic, who played for La Galaxy, was the League's most paid player at $7.2 million, a number that complemented by bonuses, and also received 50 percent stake in the club's founding company.

And with the clubs eager to sign marquee players and not shying away from footing their exorbitant fees, looks like Messi, 33, could be a possible target.

Newell’s Old Boys

Messi has often said that he would like to end his career by playing for his childhood club Newell’s Old Boys. He had joined the side when he was six years old and stayed for as many years, scoring over 500 goals.

RELATED| Pochettino hopes to return to Newell's with Messi

A return to his boyhood club would be a sweet fairtytale ending, but also remains a tad unlikely as the club would have to break the bank (and perhaps take more than a few loans) to meet his salary.

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