After a relatively quiet winter transfer window, showing the economic effects of COVID-19, the footballing world is expecting a busier summer, but all eyes are trained on Barcelona, with so much depending on Leo Messi’s big decision.
The Argentine star made it clear only recently, in an interview with Jordi Evole, that he intends to leave his decision until the end of the season, when his contract at the Camp Nou will be just days from expiring.
If the conclusion he arrives at is that he wants a new challenge elsewhere, it could set in motion a domino effect of major transfers across Europe.
The details of his lucrative Barcelona contract, revealed by El Mundo, which the club in its current condition cannot hope to equal, suggest his time in Catalonia may truly be up.
Few clubs could put together a viable deal for Messi, making Manchester City and PSG perhaps the only two plausible destinations if he does elect to move on.
PSG are known to be keen on Messi, but despite all their Qatari money, they would likely need to sell Kylian Mbappe in order to make the numbers work.
The French star’s contract expires in summer 2022 and, whatever happens with Messi, the Paris club face a big decision on that front at the end of the season.
That could result in a double win for Real Madrid, who would love the chance to sign Mbappe and would be glad to see the back of Messi, at least domestically, as well.
Financial Fair Play regulations would make it all but impossible for PSG to retain Neymar and Mbappe while adding Messi, so Los Blancos will be very attentive to Messi’s situation.
For their own part, Real Madrid would also probably need to offload some players to finance a move for Mbappe, with Vinicius Junior being touted as a potential candidate for sacrificing.
Meanwhile, if Real Madrid are unable to deal in Mbappe, he has another big admirer in Jurgen Klopp, but he would have to face casting off one of Liverpool’s attacking trio, with French media suggesting Mo Salah would be the man to make way.
But what if Manchester City are the ones who manage to land Leo Messi?
Barcelona would have an extra reason to try to sign Sergio Aguero on a free, but would find it harder to convince him in the absence of his friend and compatriot.
City are well aware of what Messi would cost and have been plotting a long-term plan to seduce him, which includes a retirement stint in MLS with partner club New York City.
Whether it is Qatar and PSG or the United Arab Emirates and Manchester City that win the race for Messi, should he decide to bid Barcelona farewell, what’s certain is that it would be the first tremor in a massive earthquake across European football.