Top 5 realistic options for Lionel Messi this summer
He’s scored over 600 goals in over 700 appearances since his heralded emergence in the colours of Barcelona, and his status in the history of the game has made him a defining figure for the Catalan club.
Unlike others at the top of the world game, he is rarely talked about as a transfer target in the media when the windows open, such is his attachment and value to the club that is as much a part of his fabric as he is to theirs.
However, Messi will turn 33 in the summer, and there have been small signs on the field in recent years that he may actually be human. The odd missed pass, missed penalty, missed shot and missed opportunity suggest his powers may have started to wane, yet he continues to defy the laws of nature with the moments of brilliance that have defined his career, and will eventually establish him as the outright greatest of all time.
His rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo was emphasised during their battle for La Liga supremacy, but while the Portuguese was breaking records at Real Madrid, his professional nemesis was more than matching his achievements at the Camp Nou.
The World Cup continues to elude both, but their monopoly over individual awards during the course of the last decade has eclipsed the achievements of world champions. Their rivalry has ensured that both men could not afford to rest on their laurels, not that their natural determination would allow either to do so, and it will be remembered as an era that saw the best of the best go head-to-head on the biggest stage.
While their achievements are directly comparable, the physical differences between Messi and Ronaldo mean that their rivalry to be the very best will remain a source of endless debate. With his pace, height and strength, Ronaldo has scored goals that are beyond Messi. However, the touch, vision, skill and low centre of gravity has enabled the diminutive Argentinian to effortlessly create moments that may never be repeated by any other individual again.
The debate will continue for many years to come, and will become distorted over time, but embracing the brilliance of both at this time is a privilege that must be enjoyed by every lover of the beautiful game.
Their rivalry changed direction in the summer of 2018 when Ronaldo joined Italian giants Juventus. Messi has remained at Barcelona, but as the years pass by, there is an increasing conversation in the media that it may finally be time for him to consider other options as he heads into the final stages of his illustrious playing career.
Any indication from Messi that he is open to the idea of change will attract a long list of potential suitors, while no incumbent President of Barcelona will want to be remembered as being the man responsible for letting their prized asset leave the Camp Nou. However, here are five options that Messi could take into consideration when the next transfer window opens.
#5 Newell’s Old Boys
Despite becoming an adopted son of Barcelona, Messi has a strong personal attachment to Rosario, Argentina, and the club that sparked his passion for the game. He has previously confessed in the media that it would be his dream to represent Newell’s Old Boys, and play in front of the fans of the club where he emerged through the junior ranks.
It is a romantic idea that the club and Argentinian football as a whole would support and celebrate. However, there are extreme practicalities that must be taken into consideration, and the viability of making the switch would not be simple process for Messi and his young family.
His failure to lift the World Cup in the colours of his country remains a frustrating aspect of Messi’s career, despite all that he has, and continues to, achieve. His commitment to Argentina has been questioned by fans sharing in the same frustration, and making such a statement would bring him back into the fold of his country.
However, of this chapter is to be written into his career annuls, it is likely to happen at a much later stage than now. Realistically, the homecoming will have to wait, but it is clearly an option that Messi himself will want to make happen as time moves on.