Will Lionel Messi Leave Barcelona This Summer?

Bookies are split on who they make favourites to sign Lionel Messi if he leaves Barcelona in the 2021 summer transfer window. Some side with Manchester City, others favour PSG. Here, we outline the best odds and analyse where he might go, if anywhere.

Will Lionel Messi Leave Barcelona This Summer?

Messi Transfer Betting Odds*

TeamBest OddsBookmaker
Manchester City7/2Paddy Power
Paris Saint-Germain4/1Unibet
Any MLS Club20/1William Hill
Newells Old Boys20/1Unibet
Manchester Utd33/1Betfair
Inter Milan40/1Unibet
To Stay at Barcelona4/9Paddy Power

*To sign for before the 2021 summer transfer deadline, odds up to date as of April 12, 2021

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The relationship between La Liga giants Barcelona and superstar Lionel Messi seems broken. Things have arguably gotten worse since last summer, when Messi pushed for a move following the ignominious 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

The 33-year-old had lost faith in the way the club was being run. Despite Josep Maria Bartomeu’s reluctant resignation of the presidency in October, recent events will hardly have assuaged Messi’s concerns. The most recent spat involves the publication of his contract in the Spanish press. The source of the leak is still unknown, but Messi was understandably irate.

After their feeble Champions league exit to PSG, it is hard to see a way back for Messi at Barcelona, despite everything he has done for the only club of his professional career.

So, where next? You could argue every team on the planet would be improved by Messi’s presence within it, but a deal will not be straightforward – as his gargantuan £112m-per-season Barcelona contract illustrates. Realistically, there are only a handful of clubs who would be able to even contemplate signing the Argentina international, unless he's willing to take a substantial pay cut.

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Man City 7/2 For Messi Signature

Manchester City are a best price of 7/2 to win the race. There are two key reasons that explain their position at the front end of the betting. First is their financial muscle, which makes them one of the few clubs who would be able to meet Messi’s wage demands. Second is the presence in the dugout of Pep Guardiola, under whom the Argentine became the world’s best player at the Camp Nou.

Guardiola has never hidden his admiration for Messi, and the Argentine would no doubt relish the chance to work with his former manager again. Messi won two Champions Leagues under Guardiola and was the focal point of arguably the greatest club side in history, and he too would stand to gain from a reunion.

From City’s point of view, Messi might finally get them over the line in their quest to win Europe’s biggest prize if they don't manage it this year. This could be a win-win situation for all concerned, although some City fans might question the wisdom of the club spending a large chunk of its wage budget on a soon-to-be 34-year-old whose best days are behind him. Those supporters are likely to be in the minority, though.

PSG are slightly longer than City at 4/1, though some bookies have them favourite. Neymar, who looks set to sign a new contract at the Parc des Princes, has made public his wish for the club to recruit Messi. A front three of Neymar, Messi and Kylian Mbappe is mouth-watering, but PSG’s summer priority will be tying the young Frenchman down to a new deal. Mbappe’s contract runs until 2022 and he continues to be linked with a move away, with Liverpool and Real Madrid said to be keeping tabs on the situation.

Perhaps PSG’s chances of winning the race for Messi would be boosted if Mbappe does seek pastures new. That would free up some funds with which to entice Messi, while PSG might feel the need to make a statement of intent were Mbappe to move on.

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Will Messi Move To MLS?

“I would like to play in the United States and experience life and the league there, but ultimately come back to Barcelona in some capacity,” Messi said in December. “I’m not thinking too far ahead in the short term and just want to see how the season finishes.”

Those comments inevitably fuelled speculation about a move to MLS (20/1). David Beckham would no doubt love to bring Messi to Inter Miami, his new expansion side, while LA Galaxy, New York Red Bulls and New York City FC have attracted footballing superstars in the past. However, Messi will probably want at least one more crack at the Champions League, and it still feels a little early for him to leave the European stage.

Perhaps Inter would provide Messi with the new challenge he is said to be seeking. There are strong cultural links between Italy and Argentina, and Messi’s father and mother are both of Italian descent. Renewing his rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo in Serie A might also prove appealing.

Messi’s wages could prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, though. Inter would only be able to afford him if he was to accept substantially less than the reported £112m he pockets per season at Barcelona. Perhaps he will be willing to take a pay cut for the right project, but Inter are clearly outsiders at 16/1.

Manchester City is the most likely destination in England, but perhaps Messi would be more attracted to the challenge of helping to put Manchester United (33/1) back on their perch. The Red Devils look to have finally got their act together in the post-Alex Ferguson era, and Messi’s vast experience and unrivalled quality could be the final piece of the jigsaw. Equally, though, United might conclude that it is better for them to continue with their long-term rebuilding job rather than throwing vast sums at a short-term fix, regardless of how brilliant Messi is.

The prospect of Ronaldo and Messi playing in the same team is tantalising, with Juventus available at 100/1 to be the Argentine’s next employers. It would be fascinating to see whether the two stars could make it work, but this is surely a non-starter given the finances that would be required for one club to pay the salaries of two of the highest-earning sportsmen of all time. If you want to see Ronaldo and Messi playing together next season, you may have to fire up FIFA 22.