Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are the ‘frontrunners’ in the race to sign Lionel Messi, should the forward follow up on his intention to leave Barcelona this summer.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner has shocked the footballing world after announcing he wants to leave the Camp Nou, Messi reportedly handing in a transfer request following a turbulent and troubled period for the Catalan club.
Messi’s announcement has quickly led to a frenzy on where the world’s finest footballer could head, though Spanish football expert, Graham Hunter, told Sky Sports that there are two clear frontrunners in the potential race to sign the Argentina captain.
“I think that the field has probably narrowed down to a couple of clubs. Inter Miami – David Beckham’s franchise – have long tried to tempt Messi and Luis Suarez to come together. That would be a big surprise to me because the MLS is not competitive enough football.
“Inter Milan want him. I don’t think he’s going to accept going there. At the moment, as far as I know, the field is two clubs – Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.
Barca fans gathered outside the Camp Nou to show their support for Leo Messi. pic.twitter.com/aqYQHzRSEU
— B/R Football (@brfootball) August 25, 2020
“Imagine Paris Saint-Germain with a front three of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Messi, being fed by Ander Herrera and Angel Di Maria. For football that is something that is such a delightful prospect that I imagine the Parisians are probably in pole position right now. But we’ll see, City will have something to say about that.”
However, it has also been suggested that Messi’s desire to quit the club is a powerplay from the 33-year-old in a bid to oust the current Barcelona board, the Spanish side’s fortunes having faltered in recent years despite their status as the world’s richest football club.
Spanish football expert, Terry Gibson, told Sky Sports that he would be ‘very, very surprised’ if Messi was allowed to leave Barcelona this summer, saying that the club’s treatment of Luis Suarez – new manager Ronald Koeman informing the Uruguayan he was not part of his plans – has prompted Messi’s decision to request a transfer.
There is perhaps no other player in world football who possesses the player-power afforded to Messi at Barcelona and the club’s board of directors have held emergency meetings to discuss the player’s future, with supporters of the club having called for president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the board to resign over the fiasco.
Barcelona are due to hold elections over their next president in March, though Messi’s transfer request could accelerate the process with the likes of Jordi Farre and former president Joan Laporta amongst the candidates.