While Lionel Messi has formally asked Barcelona to allow him to depart, there is still a decent chance that Messi begins the 2020-21 season at Barcelona, where he’s been for almost two decades. But if he doesn’t ... where might he end up?
DOUG MCINTYRE: Hi, everybody. Doug McIntyre, Yahoo Sports soccer writer. And by now you've heard the news Lionel Messi has put in a transfer request. He wants to leave FC Barcelona.
And now the big question is, what happens next? Where does Messi go? Where does he end up? For me, there's only two possible destinations.
But before we get to that, Messi has a year left on his contract. So Barcelona does have some time to try to mend that fence, to try to convince Messi to have a change of heart, to stay, to sign a new contract. If they can't do that, they have to sell him. They can't risk having the circus of a disgruntled player, let alone Lionel Messi, around for a year and then lose him at the end of next season for nothing. So they'd have to sell him.
Messi has a 700 million euro release clause in his contract. There's very few clubs around the world that are gonna be willing and able to pay that. So I do think Barcelona is gonna have to come down from that number. And even if they do, there's still only two clubs that I think it's plausible that he goes to that have the ambition to win the Champions League, which at 33 years old Messi wants to do again before he retires, and the money to pay his transfer fee and his salary.
And that's Paris Saint-Germain in France and Manchester City in England. Man City, of course, coached by Pep Guardiola, Messi's former coach with Barcelona. They're desperate to win the Champions League. For all their domination of the Premier League in England, they haven't been able to win the prize they want most.
Same for PSG, which we just saw lose in the Champions League final on Sunday to Bayern Munich. And they have their own superstar in Neymar, which I think makes this interesting. From the moment Neymar left Barcelona in 2017, there's been talk about him potentially returning to that club.
And I have to wonder, is it possible that we see some sort of swap arrangement where Neymar goes back to Barcelona, where Messi goes to Paris Saint-Germain? And if I'm Paris Saint-Germain, having just missed out on winning the Champions League, if I think I can add the best player who's ever lived in Lionel Messi to get me over the hump, that's probably something I would look at seriously.
So I think it'll be one of those clubs, but it's obviously a developing situation. We'll keep you updated with all the latest right here at Yahoo Sports.