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What next for Barcelona and Lionel Messi?

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The captain wants to go, the club want him to stay

FBL-EUR-C1-BARCELONA-BAYERN MUNICH Photo by RAFAEL MARCHANTE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona captain Lionel Messi sent shockwaves around the footballing world on Tuesday with his burofax telling the Catalan giants he wants to leave after two decades of service.

It was a shock, except in a way it wasn’t at all, given the nature of the last few seasons and the captain’s evident growing frustration with the Catalan giants.

The big question is what happens next? Messi appears adamant it’s over and thinks the clause in his contract letting him go free is still valid. Barcelona disagree, they think it’s expired, don’t want to sell and have already burofaxed him back telling him to stay.

Barcelona haven’t said anything publicly yet but a legal battle could ensue. Meanwhile, the pressure on president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign is increasing, while the season is now only a few weeks away.

Barcelona are due back for PCR testing on Sunday and are scheduled to begin pre-season training on Monday, but as it stands it appears Messi has no intention of being there. So, where do we all go from here?

Where could Messi go next?

There’s simply no escaping the speculation surrounding Messi and where he might go if he does leave. The early favorites are Manchester City. Indeed Marcelo Bechler, the reporter who first brought us news of Neymar’s departure and Messi’s desire to leave, says the GOAT wants to play for Pep Guardiola’s side.

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol - Liga BBVA Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

There are conflicting reports flying about over whether Messi’s already been in contact with Pep Guardiola about a move, but the chance to link up with the former Barcelona coach and close friend Sergio Aguero may be a temptation. Manchester City are also likely to be one of the few clubs who can afford to land Messi.

Another club with the financial clout to enter the equation are Paris Saint-Germain. Might Messi be tempted to head to Paris to play with Neymar again? The Argentine has spoken previously about how he loved playing with the Brazilian, while Thomas Tuchel made it clear he wouldn’t turn down the possibility of signing Messi after their Champions League defeat: “He’s very welcome. What coach says no to Messi?”

FBL-ESP-LIGA-BARCELONA-GETAFE Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

And then there’s the possibility of Serie A and Inter. This is a rumor that doesn’t seem to make much sense at all but continues to crop up despite the Nerazzurri repeatedly playing down such a move.

Football agent Josep María Minguella has told Cadena Cope such a move is more likely than Messi heading to the Premier League. He explained: “For me, Messi already has a team: Inter. In Italy they pay less tax, and in fact, there is Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s harder for me to see him in England, no matter how long his friend Aguero and Guardiola are at City.”

FC Barcelona v Inter: Group F - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

And the rest?

Yet it’s not out of the question that Messi could shun the big names and return to Argentina. He’s long admitted it would be a dream to play for boyhood club Newell’s Old Boys before he hangs up his boots.

It might seen a bit early for such as move, particularly as Messi finished the season top of the scoring and assists charts in La Liga in 2019-20, but then again he did turn 33 in June and, like it or not, is heading towards retirement.

Of course other names are being thrown about too. David Beckham’s Inter Miami have been mentioned, Manchester United, Juventus too, and the list will get longer and more far-fetched in the coming days too as the saga unfolds further. Yet first of all Messi needs to come to some sort of an agreement with Barcelona.