Barcelona made headlines across the world this week when Luis Enrique surprisingly announced he would be stepping down from his managerial position at the end of the season, shortly after a 6-1 victory over Sporting Gijon sent his side top of La Liga.
As the Spanish giants now contemplate their next move and assess their managerial options, the Catalans will also be wary of having to fill an irreplaceable void- as Lionel Messi could sensationally leave the club for nothing in 2018.
The situation has come about following a delay in contract negotiations with the Argentine forward and now, following Enrique’s imminent departure, no deal is likely to be agreed before the future at the Nou Camp is clear.
“Leo Messi’s contract means he can sign free for anybody in January. No club should let a brilliant, all-time player like that run his contract down so low. Messi’s father is the one who negotiates his contract and went home with no progress last week.”
“What you can absolutely be clear about is that until Leo Messi knows the future of the club, what’s happening next season, who will be signed, who will be sold, he won’t be committing.”
“The sudden move between Messi’s father going home without progress in contract negotiations and Luis Enrique doing what he hadn’t been willing to do and say ‘I’m leaving’ – there is a direct causal connection.”
Should Messi be available on a pre-contract next January, you can expect pretty much every club in the world would try their hardest to secure the legendary forward to move to their side- and the Premier League would be no different.
Of the English sides, Manchester City would perhaps have the best chance of landing the Argentine as they could offer a reunion with Pep Guardiola but rivals Manchester United would surely throw their hat in the ring, whilst Chelsea would too and Arsenal have already revealed how they tried to sign Messi as a youngster.
Whilst his signature would be available for nothing, any interested club would have to front a huge amount in wages- as Messi currently earns around £256k-a-week after tax.