Jorge Messi faces Barca but Miami and Saudi Arabia still have options


Lionel Messi is perhaps the most famous free agent in sports history. (Photo by Ibrahim Ezzat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Lionel Messi is about to make a decision that could change the balance of power in global football. He is a free agent with three possible options: Barcelona, ​​MLS’s Inter Miami and Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal. According to almost everyone from dedicated reporters to Barca boss Xavi, Messi is expected to choose between the three this week.

And so, after Jorge Messi, Leo’s father and agent, met with Barca President Joan Laporta On Monday, cameras and journalists with microphones streamed around him, pressing him for answers, clues and clues as to where the greatest player of all time is headed.

Jorge, shielded by sunglasses and a stern expression, didn’t give much. However, he said in Spanish: “Leo wants to come back to Barca and I want him to come back too.” And he confirmed that Barca is indeed an “option”.

The first part of Jorge’s statement about Leo’s desires is old news. However, the latter part had been questioned by reports and rumors last week. Barca suffer from financial problems and are constrained by La Liga rules. had no approval from the Spanish league to sign Messi. As a result, the Catalan club haven’t even been able to make a formal offer to their living legend.

The clearance has now apparently arrived – “La Liga has approved the plan,” transfer insider Fabrizio Romano tweeted on Monday – which presumably led to the meeting between Jorge Messi and Laporta at Laporta’s home and Jorge’s declaration that a reunion is plausible and a “option”. “

But it’s one of at least three options. Apparently, Saudi Arabia and the MLS are still in the game – also because Barca still have hurdles to overcome.

Are Barcelona the favorites now?

There are several possible interpretations of the Messi-Laporta meeting and the dialogue about Leo’s possible return to the club he loves. One of them is that in the last few days it has gone from impossible to possible and therefore probable. After all, it would make perfect sense that in Europe, in the Champions League, Messi would want to remain at the highest level of the sport; and that he wants to resume his life in Barcelona, ​​​​the city where he lived from 13 to 34 years. If Barca can do it, they probably will.

However, another reading is that Messi’s camp wants the Spanish public to believe that he gave Barca every chance to arrange a picture-perfect return, when in reality his eyes are elsewhere now.

That was the smartest reading of a column written last week by Guillem Balague, a Spanish journalist close to Messi’s camp. It has resisted narratives blaming someone other than Barca for the regulatory complications hampering the negotiations. It said that Messi’s camp “tell Barcelona that the decision on his future is imminent and they can’t wait any longer for a proposal.” [Barca] that didn’t arrive.”

Balague wrote very clearly that we would soon know “where”. [Messi] will play his football next season – [and] The only thing that seems certain is that it won’t be in Barcelona.

Perhaps this attitude has changed in recent days. Maybe La Liga deviated from their ‘financial fair play’ rules, or maybe Barca did some magic. But time is pressing. Laporta and Barca still haven’t submitted an official offer, Romano reported a few hours after Monday’s meeting.

The only real certainties are that Barca would do it quiet will have to sell players to make room for Messi and even then the GOAT would have to take a significant pay cut, especially given the money available in Saudi Arabia.

What about Saudi Arabia and Al Hilal?

The Saudi bid has been on the table for over a month now and it’s lucrative. According to reports, Messi would earn around $400m a year (or more), by far the highest annual salary in the sport’s history.

He would play for Al Hilal, the Saudi Pro League’s most successful club, but the money would come from the government’s public investment fund, a limitless source of wealth that the ruling family plans to tap into to raise the league’s profile (and , by extension the kingdom).

Last week, the Saudis appeared to be the favorites to sign Messi. A May 9 AFP report – which Jorge Messi denied – suggested that the deal was already “done”. Saudi authorities are reportedly prepared for Messi’s arrival and have prepared all the logistics until the player finds out himself.

So maybe it will actually happen – or maybe this is also an achievement, an attempt to rush a deal while Barca are biding their time.

Are MLS and Inter Miami still an option?

Of the many parties involved in these complex negotiations, the Americans were the calmest. This could be a sign of waning trust. Or it could be strategic or natural.

What we do know is that Inter Miami and MLS officials have been in touch with Messi’s camp. They have, according to Fabrizio Romano“put forward their offer.”

Argentine journalist Veronica Brunati reported that the salary offered in Miami is 10% of what Messi would earn in Saudi Arabia. Balague reported that Apple and Adidas are indeed involved to “push the deal forward” but that “the initial reaction from the Messi camp was that the offer was too complex and they weren’t convinced”. (Here’s how and why a potential deal with Apple could work.)

The public noise would therefore suggest that Miami and MLS are third in this three-horse race. But at least they are in the running.

Does Messi have other options?

Romano reported last week that “more European clubs” [had been] “I was getting closer” as Messi’s decision loomed. But no one has been named – only the Three Horses and PSG have presented themselves as viable options in this months-long saga.

With PSG now officially off the table, it’s Barca, Saudi Arabia or Miami. And it seems that Messi’s indecisiveness is legitimate – that the process is at an advanced stage but no final decision has yet been made.

While microphones danced in his face after meeting Laporta and he assured that Leo would like to return to Barcelona, ​​Jorge Messi announced: “I don’t know anything yet.”

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