17 August 2020 14:38
Sign up to FREE email alerts from Mirror - FC Barcelona Subscribe Thank you for subscribing We have more newsletters Show me See our privacy notice Invalid Email There are arguments as to whether Lionel Messi is the greatest footballer of all time. There are no arguments as to whether he is the best and most significant player in the history of FC Barcelona. Dozens of trophies, hundreds of goals and countless accolades later, it could - unbelievably - be the end of the road for the Argentine at the Nou Camp. There are more than a few murmurs of discontent in the Catalan capital following the Blaugrana's 8-2 humbling at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals. Barca are set for an overhaul after also surrendering their La Liga title to Clasico rivals Real Madrid - but will Messi be there to see it?
After reports emerged that he had told the club he wants out, we asked our reporters whether they thought Messi had kicked his last ball for Barcelona... (Image: UEFA via Getty Images) I just can't see Lionel Messi playing for another club. Sure, he'll fall in and out of like with Barcelona but never out of love. Watch them bring in a manager now who has the Messi seal of approval and, after a short holiday, everything will be hunky dory again for him. After 731 appearances and 634 goals - not to mention another 70 goals for Argentina - Lionel Messi has earned the right to choose when, or if, he leaves Barcelona.
Along with Pele, Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona and Cristiano Ronaldo, we are talking about one of the greatest club footballers of all time. Like Cruyff and Ronaldo, he has never won the World Cup - but so what? He has won everything else a footballer can dream of winning - and that goes to the heart of his dilemma now. If there are no more horizons left to conquer with Barcelona after 15 years, what is the point of him hanging around at the Nou Camp? Will Lionel Messi leave Barcelona? (Image: AFP via Getty Images) Barca need a root-and-branch rebuild after their 8-2 humiliation by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, and any wholesale rebuild could be hindered by the presence of their last emperor. If Messi sticks around, and Barcelona knock Real Madrid off their perch in La Liga, he's already been there and done that. And we think there is at least one Premier League manager who would welcome a sprinkling of Messi's stardust... Messi will stay at Barcelona - for now. The Catalan club will strive to do what the Argentine wanted last summer and re-sign Neymar (by offering Antoine Griezmann plus cash) and appoint a coach of his choice. Messi is 33 and unlike Cristiano Ronaldo when he opted to leave La Liga for Juventus, he has never played outside Spain. Inter Milan would join Manchester City in bidding for his services if he were to leave. But I think he will stay for another season - and then consider moving to the MLS to keep ticking over to be ready for the 2022 World Cup. There's no doubt that Messi looks to be as close as he's ever been to closing the door on Barcelona, but you just suspect that the emotional pull will eventually end up keeping him there. When you are a club - or more than a club - who are as big as the Catalans are then you're always going to have ups and downs, and the finger for the Barca's current malaise should really be pointed at those decision-makers in the boardroom. A change there, and the appointment of a genuinely world-class manager - hello Mr Pochettino - would give things a different, fresher feel, and if the club could follow that up with some clever work in the transfer market then there is no reason why Messi can't see out his career at the Nou Camp. If Lionel Messi has kicked his last ball for Barcelona, any potential suitors will need very deep pockets to sign him this summer. Messi's buy-out clause at the Nou Camp is a staggering £630million, while he comes with a salary package worth £500,000–a-week. Manchester City have long coveted Messi, despite Pep Guardiola's repeated claims that his former star will see out his career at Barcelona, and feel he would be the ultimate signing. City are one of the few clubs in the world with the finances to sign Messi, but the Blues could fall foul of UEFA's FFP rules - for what little they are now worth - if they did buy him. Perhaps the reports claiming that Messi is ready to quit Barca instead reflect the power politics at the Nou Camp. (Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images) Quique Setien is being sacked because of Barca's humiliating 8-2 Champions League hammering by Bayern Munich and Messi is threatening the nuclear option unless he sees the changes he wants. Setien's successor will no doubt need his approval and he will also want the club to buy big this summer to overhaul their ageing squad. Messi knows Barcelona need major changes if they are going to reclaim their perch on the pinnacle of world football. Until he sees this, he is happy to let Barcelona and the world know he may end his 20-year stay in Catalonia. Darren Wells - NO Messi may now be considering his future but it would be a real shock if he were to leave Barca in their darkest hour. His hero status at the Nou Camp is already assured but it would no doubt be tainted slightly if he jumped ship this summer, particularly given his previous comments about retiring at the club. A move to Inter Milan to reignite his rivalry with Ronaldo therefore seems the most likely solution if he were to move on. But a new manager often brings fresh ideas and optimism, which could be enough to keep Messi on side for now. However with his contract expiring next summer, the club need to get their next decision right. Darren Lewis - NO This pantomime starts up again every time Barcelona go through a bad spell and usually ends up with Messi's bank balance and his bank manager being the biggest beneficiaries. It wouldn't make financial sense, either, for ANY (yes, including Manchester City) Premier League club to sign Lionel Messi now. He may still be a magnificent performer but a) He'd cost silly money in wages and transfer fee, b) The money you'd spend on him would be better used (re)building a team to compete long after Messi has hung up his boots and c) Barcelona's inability to defend underlines the fact that even his presence can't save you if other areas of the team are not up to it. I think he stays where he is. Lionel Messi's Barcelona future is in doubt after their humiliating 8-2 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich. His best goal?Leo #Messi: "The header I scored in Rome in the Champions League final was my best goal."Do you agree?? See all his goals and decide!? pic.twitter.com/3anCGroide — FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) October 9, 2019 The 33-year-old has over 700 to chose from, but he believes his goal in the 2009 Champions League final is his best. A looping far-post header wrapped up a 2-0 win over Manchester United after Samuel Eto'o's opener. Victory ensured Barca became the first Spanish team to win the treble. Champions League glory Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Manchester United. Two years after beating United in Rome, Messi provided a masterclass as he inspired Barcelona to a 3-1 win over Sir Alex Ferguson's side at Wembley. Pedro had already put Barcelona ahead before Messi claimed his first goal in England when he drilled in from the edge of the area. David Villa added the gloss on the victory, with Barca winning their fourth Champions League title. Bayern defeat Goal Bayern Munich. — FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) August 14, 2020 Having won the competition four times, there has been no lower point for the Argentina forward than the crushing 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich last week. Barca were torn apart in their Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon and the result will surely spark sweeping changes at the Nou Camp both on and off the pitch. Messi and Co were outgunned and outclassed as they conceded eight for the first time since 1946 and they were confronted by angry fans on their return to Spain. Lionel Messi initially retired from international duty in 2016. Messi retired from international duty after missing in a penalty shoot-out as Argentina lost the Copa America final to Chile in 2016. It was their fourth defeat in a major final in nine years and Messi said afterwards: "For me, the national team is over. It hurts not to be a champion." But he reversed his decision less than two months later and returned to help his country reach the 2018 World Cup, only to be eliminated in the last 16. Messi helped beat Brazil in the semi-finals. Messi won his only international honour at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He scored the opening goal and assisted another in their 2–1 victory over the Ivory Coast. After qualifying from the group, he netted in a 2-1 win over Holland to set up a semi-final with Brazil, which Argentina won 3-0. A 1-0 victory over Nigeria clinched the gold medal, but Messi has never matched that success at international level.