Lionel Messi is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain when his contract expires at the end of the season with widespread reports having revealed the forward has decided to leave Paris.
Messi made a public apology to Paris Saint-Germain and his teammates this week after taking an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia, one which has increased speculation that the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is set for a lucrative move to the Middle East.
Some of Europe’s top clubs will be interested in persuading Messi to remain on the continent however, with the 35-year-old having been in superb form for club and country this season.
So for those of you who like to follow the odds and are interested in the best online sports betting companies, here are the bookmaker’s five favourites to sign Lionel Messi this summer.
Napoli – 20/1
There was something poetic about how events unfolded this season, with both Argentina and Napoli winning long-awaited titles.
Messi inspired Argentina to a first World Cup since 1986 last winter, the first La Albiceleste had won since Diego Maradona inspired the national team to success on the world stage.
Just months later, Maradona’s former club Napoli won the the Scudetto for the first time since he contributed to their 1990 success and the newly-crowned Italian champions have been linked with a move for compatriot Messi.
🇦🇷 1986 – Argentina win World Cup
🇮🇹1986/87 – Napoli win Scudetto
🇦🇷 2022 – Argentina win World Cup
🇮🇹2022-23 – Napoli win Scudetto
Diego Maradona STILL pulling the strings from above 💙☝️ pic.twitter.com/cweezrZK9F
— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) May 4, 2023
Messi has faced the inevitable comparisons with Maradona ever since his early emergence as a precocious talent and answered his critics on the international stage with the Golden Ball in Argentina’s victorious campaign in Qatar.
Following in the footsteps of Maradona in Naples would be a fascinating narrative late in his career, as Luciano Spalletti’s exciting side look to retain the title and challenge in Europe next season.
Inter Miami – 16/1
Inter Miami continue to be linked with the signing of Messi as David Beckham’s franchise look to make the biggest signing in MLS history.
The USA has been a popular destination for modern greats to wind down in the latter stages of their career and the Florida-based outfit have been keen to sign up Messi as a designated player.
Beckham discussed his admiration for Messi earlier this year and confessed the Argentine was his ‘favourite’ player to watch.
𝗛𝗘’𝗦 𝗠𝗔𝗚𝗜𝗖 🇦🇷
— Ligue 1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) April 23, 2023
“It has to be Messi,” Beckham told ESPN Argentina.
“I love Leo for many different reasons. I love him because he’s a great father. I love him because he’s a great personality, a character. He’s a great person.
“But I think what everybody loves about him is the way he plays the game. He plays the game with passion. He plays the game just free the way he plays. And I think this past World Cup again. I think the way he played for his team, for his country, and to win that World Cup was an incredible moment for him. And I love watching players like him.”
Manchester City – 11/1
Manchester City are priced at 11/1 to bring Messi to the Premier League, having tried to convince the forward to move to England in 2021.
Pep Guardiola made an approach to Messi when it became apparent the Argentine was set to leave Barcelona, but a move failed to materialise and the forward instead headed to Paris Saint-Germain.
Guardiola and Messi share a unique connection, with each having been behind the other’s greatest career successes. Messi was the driving force of Guardiola’s iconic Barcelona side and evolved into the world’s finest footballer under his tutelage at the Camp Nou.
The rigorous demands of English football might mean Messi has reservations over a move to the Premier League, but the chance to reunite with Guardiola at arguably club football’s best side is one that would be difficult to resist.
Signing for City would see Messi join an all-star cast alongside the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland, a combination that could produce fantasy football and a platform for Champions League success.
Barcelona – 9/4
Barcelona are expected to make a bid to re-sign Messi, who was moved to tears when the club’s economic issues forced his exit in 2021.
The Catalans remain cash-strapped and in financial difficulty, but are reportedly in negotiations with La Liga to find methods to make the Argentina captain’s return to the club viable.
Substantial sales are required in order to sign Messi and meet FFP regulations and names such as Raphinha, Ansu Fati, Franck Kessie and Ferran Torres have been linked with exits to raise much-needed funds and make a deal viable.
Messi’s return would be welcomed in Barcelona, where he was expected to remain for his entire career before the club’s recent issues. Messi won ten league titles and four Champions League trophies during a record-breaking first spell at the club, one which saw him score a club-record 672 goals in all competitions.
Any Saudi Premier League side – 1/3
Messi’s unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia has made a move to the Middle East his likeliest destination according to the bookmakers.
Several sources have reported that Messi has a staggering €400 million per year contract offer from Al Hilal, the most decorated club in the history of Asian football.
— Ligue 1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) April 16, 2023
The club are currently coached by former Argentina international Ramon Diaz and count former Porto forward Moussa Marega on their squad list.
A move to Saudi Arabia would see Messi reunite his long-term rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo, who signed for divisional rivals Al-Nassr after leaving Manchester United earlier this season.