- Messi’s future at Barca is in doubt after row with Eric Abidal
- Argentinian has hit back to the club’s sporting director after his criticism of the squad
- Man City are 2/1 favorites to sign Messi in the summer, but which other teams could be a good bet?
The future of the world’s greatest player is, not for the first time, the subject of much debate. Lionel Messi’s much-publicized disagreement with Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal has, by Abidal’s own admission, left the door open for Messi to leave the Camp Nou this summer.
As a result, clubs all over the globe are on red alert as one of the greatest players ever to grace a soccer field potentially becomes available for the first time ever. We’ll take a look and see if we can predict his likely destination.
Lionel Messi’s Next Permanent Club Odds
|Any Argentinian club||+330|
|Any MLS club||+2000|
Odds taken on Feb. 10. [Note: Betting above assumes he will leave Barca]
Barca Rocked By Messi vs Abidal Row
The row that’s rocked European soccer and thrown Barcelona into crisis came after Messi – in his capacity as club captain – hit back at Abidal for accusing the players of not working hard enough under former-coach Ernesto Valverde.
After a string of indifferent performances, despite Barca sitting top of La Liga and having made it to the knockout stages of the Champions League, Valverde was replaced by former Real Betis coach Quique Setien. It was this forced change that prompted Abidal’s criticism of the squad.
Quique Setién: "I think we did well, it's a pain we don't have a return game. We controlled the game, but we missed luck. Success will come in the long run." pic.twitter.com/h5O8gmoxHU
— barcacentre (from ?) (@barcacentre) February 6, 2020
Messi, who is renowned for generally keeping his opinions to himself, felt obliged to defend his teammates and in an interview in Spanish newspaper, Sport made clear in strong terms that he disagreed with Abidal’s take on events. The pair, who were once teammates, now appear to be in a standoff, with neither prepared to concede or back down.
Name and Shame
Part of their ongoing spat is around the six-time Balon d’Or winner challenging Abidal to specifically name the players he was referring to, something he was understandably unwilling to do but which has caused the divisions to widen. For Abidal, the consequences of this dispute could be far-reaching, as Messi reportedly has a clause in his current contract that permits him to walk away from the club at the end of the season.
In some ways, the situation has been exacerbated in recent weeks as Barca, not helped by an injury crisis in their striker department, have slipped three points behind their great rivals Real Madrid in La Liga. Long-term injuries to Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele have left the Catalans light of attacking options.
Unusually for Messi, he took to Instagram to defend his teammates, an action that prompted the club to broker a two-hour meeting with him and Abidal to discuss the conflict. As yet it’s unclear whether there has been a positive outcome.
In addition to his fallout with Abidal, Messi is also reported to have had a training ground clash with teammate Marc-Andre ter Stegen. According to Spanish publication El Pais, their clash stemmed from accusations of showboating but, regardless of its source, it all adds to the narrative of Messi’s summer departure.
? ¦ ElPais ¦ Messi and Ter Stegen had a clash in the training post defeat at the Mestalla. pic.twitter.com/pDFgLEwIPA
— Barça Turf™ (from ?) (@BarcaTurf) February 6, 2020
While this particular issue is little more than a sideshow, the bottom line is unless there is a breakthrough with Abidal, there remains a strong possibility Messi will be looking for pastures new this summer. But where and who?
If it happens, there is a chance he could head back over the Atlantic – either home to Argentina or to the MLS – but at just 32-years-old he will consider there to be plenty of life left in the legs, so a move to one of the European giants looks most likely.
Messi, in his capacity as club captain, hit back at Abidal for accusing the players of not working hard enough under former-coach Ernesto Valverde.
Where Next for Lionel?
If he were to head back to South America, realistically his only destinations could be Boca Juniors or River Plate but it looks extremely doubtful, and the same applies to the MLS where only LA Galaxy would be likely to fit his list of requirements, though the Galaxy have already made their major offseason signing in Chicharito.
— Manchester City News (@mancitynews2011) February 11, 2020
In purely financial terms, the only two teams in Europe who would be able to accommodate a deal would be Manchester City and PSG – the former offering him a chance to reunite with Pep Guardiola – but the City boss has already poured cold water on the prospect. PSG may be the better fit and they have a history of taking Barca superstars with Neymar and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both heading to Paris after spells in Catalonia.
While Bayern would always be interested in such a move, however unlikely, a left-field option may be Inter Milan (not AC) who have a habit of taking superstars who are in their 30s and successfully prolonging their career.
Pick: Messi to PSG (+600)