Where is Lionel Messi going to play next? Odds say Paris Saint Germain, but could be Manchester City or MLS
Where is Lionel Messi going to be playing his football when the European domestic leagues open in the coming weeks?
Well, I know where he (most likely) will not be playing it: Barcelona, where the Argentine assassin helped the Blaugrana win four UEFA Champions League titles and where he won six Ballon d'Or trophies as the best player in the world.
Barcelona announced today that Messi, who had been a free agent since June 30 but looked set to come back to the only senior team he has known, will not be signed to another contract.
Barcelona said in a statement: "Despite having reached an agreement with Messi and with both parties clearly wanting to sign a new contract, it cannot be finalised due to financial and structural problems [rules relating to the Spanish league].
"Given this situation, Messi will not continue his relationship with Barcelona. Both parties lament deeply that the desires of the player and the club cannot be met.
"Barca would like to wholeheartedly thank the player for his contribution to the growth of the institution and wish him the best in his personal and professional life."
There were negotiations over a new five-year contract, but the finances of Barcelona, which are rumored to see the Catalan club over €1.2 billion in debt (with the true number possibly much higher), made it impossible to have Messi back. There is a "salary cap" in La Liga, and Barcelona was struggling to get back under that number, especially with Messi's enormous weekly wage packet.
So where is Messi going to go?
Right now, the odds on his next team lean heavily in favor of PSG (favorites at -150). Messi would link up with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe (if he does not go to Real Madrid) to form the new MNM (M&M, or Eminem as someone said early Thursday on Twitter) front line.
Of course, Manchester City, with Messi's old manager Pep Guardiola, could be in the running too (+400). But City just spent £100 million on Jack Grealish, who was announced just hours before the Messi news broke.
Think he might come to the MLS? Any team in the American league is the third favorite at +1200.
Here is a list of the odds:
Paris Saint-Germain -150
Manchester City +400
Any MLS team +1200
Inter Milan +1400
Manchester United +1800
Newell's Old Boys +1800
The problem with many of those teams is that they are broke, or in a precarious position in terms of finances (Inter, Juventus, Liverpool), or stacked in that position (City, United, Chelsea).
No MLS team can afford his salary, nor could Newell's.
So right now, he either goes back to Barcelona (it is a distinct possibility no matter what is being said right now) or goes to PSG and wins another League title, and possibly another Champions League or two.
Those are your options.