At one point this season it appeared that Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona was 100% going to happen, so it was just a case of figuring out where he could go.
Barcelona were in a bad place and Ronald Koeman’s tenure didn’t get off to the best start, but there was always going to be a problem if finding a club who could meet his demands.
PSG were an obvious link but they appear to be focussing on keeping Mbappe and Neymar, while they are getting closer to a Champions League trophy so that looks like the right way for them to go.
Man City were another who could makes sense but there’s no sign that anyone is willing to pay him at this point, while Joan Laporta’s arrival as Barca President and the recent turnaround in form have given some hope.
ESPN have now reported that talks are planned over a new three year deal – it’s sounding likely that he’ll only stay for two more before ending his career in MLS, but Barca will pay him over the three years so make it easier for them to afford.
It’s a creative way of getting over the short-term financial hit, but it’s also pushing the problem into the future so they may find themselves in a situation where they are trying to replace Messi while also paying him after he’s gone.
At this point it must be stressed that the deal isn’t done, but it’s confirmed that Messi’s agent has flown in for the talks so they should happen soon, while there’s clearly a belief from Barca that this will be agreed
It’s also fair to suggest from the recent ESL shambles that a lot of clubs might not have as much money as previously thought, so staying at Barca could make sense.
Real Madrid have a ton of debt and several first team players are reaching the end of their career so they could have a transition period soon, while Koeman’s team are on the up and have a young core to build around so it’s an enticing place for Messi to play his football again.