Well, it's happening. Argentina superstar, who ruffled some feathers with the club in recent weeks and was of his unauthorized trip to Saudi Arabia, is departing the French capital with his father and agent communicating as much to the club about a month ago., which means he's going to be on the market as a free agent this summer when his contract expires at the end of June. Of course, he's already free to negotiate a deal with a new club as of January 1. The
So, that leads to the question, where next? Where might arguably the greatest player to ever do it, one at the height of popularity just months after winning the World Cup with Argentina, play next season?
Here's where I want to see him, ranking five potential destinations from the one I least want to see to the one I most want to see and why. It's important to note that this isn't about what's likely to happen. The pragmatist in me knows that a Messi return to Argentina isn't in the cards right now, even if the romantic in me wants to see it happen. So, onto the list.
5. Al-Hilal (Saudi Arabia)
If you want that money, this is the spot to go. He's been connected to the country a lot lately, not only with that loss to Saudi Arabia to kick off the World Cup, but he's a tourism ambassador for the country, which was the reason he jetted off there, setting off this whole ruckus in the first place. It would be a huge drop off in the quality of soccer,, it would be hard to say no, especially with being quite familiar with the place now. It feels more likely than some on this list, but it still feels rather unlikely. It wouldn't be the most popular move for his fans, and it would quite likely be the least popular one, sacrificing quality for money. Plus, does he really want to ?
4. Manchester City (England)
Could this be the time? Probably not, but could you imagine him playing under Pep Guardiola again and working off of the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland? It would be absolutely bonkers. In that free-flowing City attack, I have no doubt he would flourish and could probably produce a 20-goal and 20-assist season. It would be unfair, and while there are questions about how they'd make it financially work, those questions have been around for over a decade with this team. They haven't been linked to him now, but back when it seemed like just a pipe dream that Messi might leave Barcelona, .
3. Inter Miami (United States)
The one everybody in the United States wants to see and reasonably so. This could do even more for the game than what Pele did by joining the New York Cosmos in the 1970s. At least, that's what David Beckham, Manchester United legend and owner of the club, was at PSG training just the other week and chatted it up with the Argentine. This feels like one of the most likely destinations, but it doesn't crack the top two that I want to see. After another season or two in Europe, then yes. Imagine already being stateside in 2026 to defend his nation's World Cup title? But now, it just seems like he's still too close to the top of his game to come to MLS.. There's buzz that he'd be able to potentially get into club ownership as part of any deal, and Miami is a frequent vacation spot for him and his family. He even .
2. Newell's Old Boys (Argentina)
It's an utterly romantic and utterly unrealistic option, but boy would I like to see this. In fact, it could be No. 1 for me. To play for his childhood club, the one that he played in the academy for and dreamed of debuting in the first division with, this would be a match made in heaven. The Rosasrio club are legendary. He's a god in the country, obviously,, but even more so in the Sante Fe province where he's from and where the club are based. There is something magical about the thought of Messi playing in the Copa Libertadores with Newell's. Imagine him visiting La Bombonera to face Boca Juniors, Estadio Monumental against River Plate and his first Clasico Rosarino against Rosario Central. Now, the financial situation in Argentina is an absolute mess, and unless he is fine with a ridiculous pay cut or plays for free, there's just no way that this even happens, sadly enough. On top of that, the lack of security in Argentina is a major concern. In March, while leaving a threatening note.
1. Barcelona (Spain)
There is, however, a romantic choice that is realistic. It's like getting back together with that one ex that you know you shouldn't have ever let go. Could you just imagine this return? How many greats leave their team and then go back? In basketball, Michael Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls, LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers, and in soccer it happens a bit. Thierry Henry returned to Arsenal, Didier Drogba suited up for Chelsea again and even Ronaldo did it with Manchester United. This would be on an even bigger level when you consider the popularity of soccer now, Messi's status and all of the buzz surrounding Barcelona. The reason that Messi left was that Barcelona put themselves in such a financial pickle that they couldn't afford to re-sign him. Over the last two years, however, they have, somehow, heavily invested in the squad despite those financial obstacles, pulling so-called "levers" to make money appear. Exactly how many more levers they have now is unknown and how in the world they make this work is beyond me, but it's been obvious for months that they, including president Joan Laporta, will try their absolute best. He'd get another crack at the Champions League with a more well-rounded squad than when he left, and this is the team he will always be synonymous with. It may just be time to go home.