Possible landing spots for Lionel Messi after Barcelona split

The race to sign one of soccer’s greatest players is on.

FC Barcelona announced Thursday that Lionel Messi won’t be returning to the club due to financial and structural obstacles, leaving the 34-year-old’s future uncertain.

Last summer, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain emerged as the most likely landing spots when Messi informed Barcelona he wanted out over frustrations with the direction of the team.

Manchester City reportedly was prepared to offer Messi a $600 million contract at the time to reunite him with his former manager Pep Guardiola.

Many oddsmakers list Manchester City as the favorite to land Messi, but as of now it is “not in their plans,” at least according to Times Sport.

Messi earned $163 million per season in last contract with Barcelona.

PSG also could entice Messi with a potential reunion, this time with Neymar, who teamed up with Messi at Barcelona for four seasons. Like City, the Qatari-backed PSG typically has fewer financial limitations compared to other European clubs.

Still, the financial situation for each club may be tenuous. Last month, La Liga president Javier Tebas said that only “financial doping” could allow either club to sign Messi to a contract similar to his previous deal with Barcelona. Pandemic-induced losses, Tebas said, would hamper each team’s pursuit of Messi.

Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring earlier this year.
Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring earlier this year.Siu Wu/picture alliance via Getty Images

Oddsmakers also pointed to Messi potentially signing with any MLS team, Manchester United and Inter Milan as other possible destinations for the superstar.