Lionel Messi: Where PSG forward Guillem Balague could play next season

With the World Cup fast approaching, speculation about Lionel Messi’s next destination continues.

At 35, the Paris St-Germain striker has won almost every award in the game. He won the Ballon d’Or – given to the best player in the world – a record seven times and win too Best FIFA Men’s Player award once

But where will the Argentine superstar weave his magic next season?

What is the situation with PSG?

Despite clearly approaching the final stages of his career, Messi, with 11 goals and 14 assists in 17 Ligue 1 and Champions League appearances this season, is back to his frightening best.

Messi and his family did not have the happiest of departures from Barcelona, ​​where he had starred for more than half his life, and they did not hit the ground running after him. he arrived in Paris last August.

The shirt sales he signed for the club surpassed those of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar when they came to PSG. Unfortunately the initial performances, affected by injuries, adaptations and a tough one covid infectionIt didn’t quite live up to all the hype.

But since everything has fallen into place in his personal life, his performances have quickly reflected that.

Simply put, if PSG put a contract on the table and said it must be signed there and then, Messi would do it.

But with qualification for the Champions League knockout rounds assured, his main focus is on the World Cup and he has asked everyone around him not to talk about his future until then. That could be January or June, but definitely after the tournament.

Messi goes to Qatar carrying the hopes and dreams of the entire Argentine nation, the main asset of what looks to be a very good side built around him by manager Lionel Scaloni. They look a lot like they could be there or thereabouts in the competition.

It will be the perfect test for Messi to determine whether or not he deserves his place among the elite, to fulfill the task at hand. Then he will decide at which level he wants to play.

Messi’s current contract, which runs until the end of June next year, was for two years and an option for a third, although the extension will only come into effect if both parties agree.

With that being the case, PSG now more than ever realizes its value both commercially and in a sporting context. If they sit out at the end of the World Cup they will offer him another one-year contract and an option for a second year, rather than the current off-season deal taking effect.

The word out of Paris is that they are optimistic he will sign.

What are the chances of joining MLS with Inter Miami?

According to many UK media outlets, David Beckham’s Inter Miami are currently the favorites to sign Messi when his contract with PSG expires at the end of June.

What is certain is that Inter Miami has everything ready to ensure that he is brought to Major League Soccer as soon as possible, which is completely different from saying that he will join them next season.

It is almost certainly the arrival of Sergio Busquets, Messi’s great friend and former Barcelona teammate.

If Inter Miami sign Busquets, they will not only get a top player, but they will also feel that they will have someone they can trust and be close to Messi if they decide to make the move.

Messi may decide at some point in his career where he and his family want to be, but next season? Too early to say. The story of his move to the US seems to be driven by a club that needs attention to garner enough support for their future.

What are his chances of joining Barcelona?

In the end BBC documentary On Messi, Xavi said how much he would love to coach the Argentine. It is also certain that the Barcelona coach is the driving force behind the idea of ​​Messi’s potential return that is constantly highlighted in the Barcelona sports media.

My feeling is that Xavi has already spoken to Messi and explained to him how he thinks Barcelona can be a great power once again, especially in the role of an attacking midfielder.

Ever the pragmatist, club president Joan Laporta is not one to start dismissing suggestions he could return, and has often spoken in general terms about how the story of Messi and Barcelona is far from over.

In fact, Xavi has previously emphasized to Laporta that Messi was the missing piece in the team and that he wanted to return as soon as possible.

Despite Xavi’s desire to return, and despite Laporta’s encouraging words, there has been no contact between Laporta and Messi himself, nor with his father and agent, since. disastrous media talk where he said goodbye to the club after 18 years.

There may be people, especially on the Barcelona side, desperately trying to build bridges, but the truth is that the response from Messi’s camp is very cold, and whatever happens, it will take a lot of convincing if it ever comes. to return to the club as a player.

For all intents and purposes, Messi’s contract with PSG expires in less than eight months. If Barcelona were really serious about bringing him back then the negotiations between all parties would go ahead.

There is nothing on the table at the moment, not even a hint of an offer, not even the remotest sign of any commercial or financial strategy in place.

And can you blame him for thinking twice about a comeback?

Last season was traumatic, not only for Messi, but for his whole family, and one of the main reasons for that was the way he left the club.

In December, before the presidential elections, he had discussions with his family and told them that they would stay in Barcelona. Such was his desire not to rock the boat that, in light of the crisis the club was facing, he agreed to a 50% pay cut to facilitate the deal, which incidentally was the maximum he could legally accept.

But even that was not enough to guarantee him to stay, and when he was ready to sign the new contract, his father told him that Laporta had talked to him and that it would not happen.

In the end it was Rafael Yuste, Barcelona’s vice president of sports, who gave Jorge Messi the news of Laporta’s return.

Messi was left with no choice but to hold a family meeting where he told them he was leaving the club.

He felt betrayed because he had done everything possible to ensure he could stay at Barcelona and then, to add insult to injury, the club created a false narrative that Messi’s people had been in discussions with PSG and were now tying up a contract deal around Barcelona. neck.

The reality was simpler. Laporta campaigned promising to keep Messi at the club. Now selected, the club quickly announced that the numbers did not add up.

Messi and his entire family put on a brave face when they arrived in Paris, but he couldn’t hide the fact that in a perfect world the entire Messi family, at the time, would have preferred to stay in Barcelona.

For a month and a half his children had to live in a hotel, although it was luxurious, it was never ‘home’ and being an hour away from the training ground through the nightmare of Paris traffic was ideal.

Then he got injured and contracted Covid, which led to some lung complications that slowed him down.

How did he turn things around at PSG?

In Paris, the family found a place they could call home, and established a harmonious routine, with his wife Antonela now working and his children going to school learning French and English.

Now he looks comfortable on the field again, where and how he wants to play, with most of the game passing through him. It has benefited the side, although Mbappe and Neymar now play a slightly less influential role.

Physically it feels great. He trains in the evenings at home, and although he has recently had a bit of a problem with his calf, he has missed only one game – against Stade Reims – because of it.

He has returned to form and knows he must continue to play to maintain his sharpness, not only for the World Cup, but also to keep up the pressure for PSG to claim the Ligue 1 title and their first Champions League crown.

Many believe that the World Cup in Qatar could become Messi’s “last hurray”. Others, myself included, believe that it could also be a starting point for the next chapter of his illustrious career, and confirmation that his farewell to the world of elite football is far from over.

Around the BBC - SoundsAround the foot of the BBC - Sounds