As a general rule all Messi transfer rumours are to be taken with a grain of salt. For one thing there are only a handful of clubs in the entire world who could pay the estimated $US600 million in buyout money and salary that it’d take to pry him from Barcelona.
But there are signs that this time is different.
Guillem Balague, the respected Spanish soccer journalist who wrote a book on Messi, said on Sky Sports that this is the closest he has ever come to leaving Barcelona.
“He has never been as close as this to leaving. That doesn’t mean he is going to leave,” he said. “What I mean is that it’s a possibility that has not only entered his mind — Barcelona were thinking of selling him about six, seven months ago.”
Messi was benched in Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Real Sociedad in La Liga. The benching came after he and Enrique had “a sharp exchange of words” at practice on Friday, according to ESPN’s Graham Hunter. The day after the loss Messi didn’t show up to training, saying he had gastroenteritis. According to reports out of Spain, Enrique wanted to punish the superstar for his absence but was ultimately talked out of it.
On the same day, the club fired its sporting director after he criticised the president, and his assistant — legendary defender Carlos Puyol — immediately quit.
In the midst of that chaos, Messi transfer rumours of all shapes and sizes started up. Messi started following Premier League club Chelsea and two of their players on Instagram:
Some people believe they have seen face of Jesus in a piece of toast, some people hear coded instructions in Michael Jackson’s lyrics, and some people believe that if Lionel Messi follows Thibaut Courtois and Felipe Luís on Instagram, then the Argentinian tease is definitely on the verge of a move to Chelsea.
Manchester City’s name has also been thrown out there.
PSG’s name is in the mix as well, with fellow Argentine Javier Pastore telling the media, “If Messi were to leave Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain’s owner will be right there to strike a deal. Money will not be a problem. The club has the resources to buy a number of Messis.”
Messi, the most expensive player in the world, has been at Barcelona since he was 13. But now that Barcelona and Spain’s golden generation of players are ageing, these are different times.
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