With Manchester City appearing to be closing the door on the transfer of Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain may be the next most likely destination for the Argentine star after Barcelona said they could not give him a new contract.
Even a 50 per cent salary cut for Barcelona was not enough for Barcelona, as the Catalan giants pulled their power from a planned five-year deal for Messi.
Although he is now 34, in normal times there would be a slight lack of suitors for a man who won ten league titles and four Champions League titles with Barcelona while collecting an unparalleled six Golden Balls.
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But 18 months into a global pandemic, these are no ordinary times.
Football has not proven immune because a season and a half of empty stadiums has caused huge financial losses.
Barcelona was living on the edge before the Corona virus struck.
After the club was forced to cut its salary bill and tackle a debt of around 1.2 billion euros ($1.6 billion), he shocked Friday by saying it was time to abandon those avenues.
Messi’s contract at the Camp Nou has expired and is available on a free transfer but it is not clear what paths are open for him.
City will likely take up his salary and Messi will likely be open to meeting Pep Guardiola, his former mentor in Catalonia and now responsible for the Premier League champions.
However, Guardiola answered “not at all” when asked on Friday if the club would move to Messi.
City just added Jack Grealish, who plays in a similar position, for 100 million pounds ($139 million), and Guardiola said he could go after Harry Kane if Tottenham Hotspur lower the asking price.
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Pep Guardiola dropped any chance of landing Messi. (Photo by Louis Storey/Getty Images) Source: Getty Images
Spanish magazine AS reports that Chelsea are reconsidering Romelu Lukaku’s plans now that Messi is on the market, adding that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich wants to meet the football star right away.
“The Messi earthquake made Roman Abramovich also set his eyes on Leo Messi and requested an urgent meeting with the Argentine environment through an English mediator to start supporting the stadium because he knows that Manchester City is having difficulty joining the team’s bid after yesterday officially announced the spending of 100 million euros on Grealish.”
“Chelsea know that they started this war below PSG, but they have the cash to face great deals, even more than the other candidates. In fact, it is one of the best clubs with Real Madrid to fight for. [Erling] Haaland next year, although it looks like the effort will be made this summer with Lukaku, who could earn between 120 and 130 million and a salary of 12 million euros a year plus two more in bonuses.
“Chelsea’s idea is to move forward with negotiations with Inter Milan for the Belgian striker and at the same time listen to Leo Messi’s claims if the operation can be carried out and thus have at least one goalkeeper.”
Chelsea wants to test the waters. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) Source: Getty Images
Other leading English clubs may also be able to afford a Messi transfer now, and there are no transfer fees to worry about, but the timing too close to the start of the new season is an issue.
Many clubs have already done their business in the transfer window.
Instead, PSG appear to be the favorites should they wish to give Messi a chance to reunite him with former Barcelona teammate Neymar at the Parc des Princes.
“Paris Saint-Germain is confident of finding the right ‘deal structure’ soon to sign Leo Messi after opening direct talks since yesterday. PSG are already working on Leo’s potential contract. You have been told that the confidence It is also increasing in the PSG dressing room – Neymar is paying.”
“I see Paris Saint-Germain now as one of the first candidates for Lionel Messi.”
Just last December, Neymar told ESPN he would love nothing more than being linked again with Messi.
“We know what happened,” Paris Saint-Germain coach and Argentine teammate Mauricio Pochettino said on Friday, asking inescapable questions about whether Messi was on his shopping list.
But the former Tottenham boss would only go so far as to say that the Parisians are “working in the market to improve the squad as much as possible and achieve our goals” as the new season approaches.
“I am focused on the start of the season,” which Paris Saint-Germain started on Saturday.
Paris Saint-Germain is the best to sign Messi. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) Source: Getty Images
In the past, PSG were poised to pick big names at the end of their career – such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and David Beckham, while veteran defender Sergio Ramos has just arrived from Real Madrid.
Christophe Lippetit of the Center for Sports Law and Economics (CDES) in the French city of Limoges told AFP that Messi “fits perfectly into the strategy that the club has developed over the past 10 years”.
“In sporting terms, he is a player who can help you climb to the last step of winning the Champions League,” a prize still far from Paris Saint-Germain, who lost the 2020 final to Bayern Munich.
It also allows for the development of other sources of income, especially commercial ones,” Lipetit said.
But Pochettino ignored questions on Friday and passed the ball to chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi.
“Our president is looking at ways to improve the team,” he said, while denying a British media report that he had spoken to Messi over the phone.
When asked if France star Kylian Mbappe, whose contract will expire next summer and considered a long-term goal for Real Madrid, might leave if Messi joined, Pochettino simply smiled and said “no”. With French football’s financial crisis after the recent collapse of Mediapro, PSG have to take a cautious path.
According to the French financial watchdog DNCG, the club ended the Covid-hit 2019/20 season with a pre-tax loss of €124.9 million.
Although UEFA have eased financial restrictions on fair play, PSG still needs to make savings, they have already spent a lot this summer, bringing in Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi.
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