LEO MESSI gave the strongest hint yet that his future may not lie at Barcelona at last night’s Ballon d’Or awards in Zurich, Switzerland.
The Argentina playmaker – who failed to pick up his fifth Ballon d’Or this year – was asked before the awards ceremony if he would be interested in playing for another club, considering he has spent his entire career with Barcelona apart from a brief spell in his youth with Newell’s Old Boys club in Argentina.
The 27-year-old replied: “I am not sure if I will go back to Newell’s Old Boys one day. I am not sure where I will be next year. I have always said that I will end my career with Barcelona but as Cristiano said: ‘Only God knows the future.’ Things in football can change overnight.”
His comments at the awards ceremony come at a troubling time for Barcelona football club, with Spanish press reports speculating that the relationship between Messi and coach Luis Enrique is strained.
Messi has failed to light up La Liga so far this year, whereas Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo is enjoying a spectacular season. Ronaldo picked up his second Ballon d’Or in a row last night, bringing his total to three, just one short of Messi’s. Ronaldo’s teammate James Rodriguez won the Puskas Award for goal of the year for his wonder-strike against Uruguay during the 2014 World Cup.
Talk of Messi leaving Barcelona has dominated the sports pages recently. He has been linked with both Manchester United and Chelsea, but reports suggest that only Manchester United would be able to afford him. There is a €250 million buyout fee on his Barcelona contract, and factoring in Messi’s current five-year contract with Barcelona, worth €20.9 million per year, and his salary, any transfer would cost in the region of €350 million.
It’s rumoured that the only other club with the financial clout to buy Messi is Real Madrid, but it is extremely unlikely that the Argentinian would go to Barcelona’s biggest rivals.