Speculation has emerged this week that Lionel Messi is unhappy and keen to leave Barcelona, sparking a whirlwind of rumours on a potential destination for the world’s finest footballer.
Messi has reportedly ended discussions over an extension to his current contract after leaked media reports painted him in a bad light at the Camp Nou, whilst there are further suggestions the star is frustrated by a lack of quality in the current squad and is keen for a change in manager.
With just one year remaining on his deal the news has opened up the possibility of Messi playing his football away from the Spanish giants for the first time, but who are the favourites to secure the signing of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner?
So for those of you like to keep up to date with the best betting tips on Sportytrader, here are the five favourites to sign Lionel Messi:
Paris Saint-Germain – 15/2
Paris Saint-Germain have regularly sought ambitious arrivals with the club hell-bent on winning a maiden Champions League title, and there would perhaps be no greater statement of intent than the capture of Messi from Barcelona.
The prospect of Messi linking up in a forward line containing former Barca teammate Neymar – who he maintains a strong relationship with – and the irresistible Kylian Mbappe is a mouthwatering proposition, arguably the world’s best footballer alongside the potential heirs to his crown.
Messi will be 34-years-old next summer and whilst he has shown no signs of slowing down just yet, a move to PSG could prove an attractive proposition. The capital club are the dominant force in a competition less demanding than some of its European counterparts, a situation which could allow Messi to concentrate his focus on delivering the Champions League title the Parisians crave.
Inter Milan – 5/1
Could Messi renew his long-term rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo in Italian football’s top flight?
Ronaldo completed a move to Juventus two summers ago and Messi is linked with making a similar switch, Inter Milan regarded as 5-1 odds to secure the signing of the Argentina international.
Serie A was once the destination for the world’s finest footballers and the signing of Messi would bring huge excitement to the division once more, whilst there has been tentative speculation that Inter’s shirt sponsors – tyre company Pirelli – would ‘help’ with securing the marquee arrival.
Inter have made positive strides in recent years but require more to close the gap on a Juventus side seeking a ninth consecutive league title this season, and the arrival of Messi would go someway to the helping the Nerazzurri conquer Italy once more.
Any Argentinian club – 9/2
Messi left his native Argentina as a precociously talented 13-year-old to sign for Barcelona, but has often discussed the possibility of a dream return to his homeland to finish his career.
A return to South America is regarded as a 9/2 possibility with the bookmakers, though the star would have to take a huge pay-cut to secure a move to one of Argentina’s leading clubs.
The Barcelona superstar played for hometown club Newell’s Old Boys as a youngster and the Rosario-based outfit would likely be his first choice, Messi having spoken of his dream to represent the club towards the end of his record-breaking career.
Newell’s, however, are a mid-table outfit at present and a more attractive proposition could be the nation’s capital club giants in Boca Juniors and River Plate, both sides regular contenders for the Argentine Primera division and Copa Libertadores.
Juventus – 4/1
It couldn’t happen, could it?
Football fans have long discussed the hypothetical prospect of Messi and Ronaldo playing together, the two players having shared 11 of the past 12 editions of the Ballon d’Or to establish themselves as arguably the two greatest footballers of all-time.
The arrival of Messi in Turin would create unprecedented excitement with the two players forming a dream partnership in attack for the Bianconeri, a situation that would create football history and catapult Juventus firmly to the forefront of the world game.
Italian football’s dominant force has spoken about becoming the world’s biggest club and ending their long wait for a Champions League title, there would be no better way than forming a partnership many felt would never be seen.
Manchester City – 9/4
Premier League fans have long dreamed of seeing Messi on a weekly basis and Manchester City are the favourites to secure his signing should he leave Barcelona next summer, the Argentine having enjoyed arguably the best period of his career under the guidance of current City boss Pep Guardiola.
Guardiola has previously spoken of his wish for Messi to finish his career at the Camp Nou, but would surely jump at the opportunity to reunite with reigning Ballon d’Or winner in Manchester.
Messi would seem perfectly suited to City’s style and could form an exhilarating understanding with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling, joining a side capable of challenging for major honours under the guidance of a manager who knows how to extract the best from his talents.
City’s appeal against a two-season ban from the Champions League may be decisive, however, if the Etihad side are to pull of a stunning transfer swoop.