Barcelona striker Lionel Messi has given the strongest hint yet that he could leave the Spanish giants saying “things can change a lot in soccer ” before appearing to contradict himself by adding “if it was up to me I would stay forever”.
The four-times world player of the year, who joined Barça’s academy at the age of 13, has had a tough 18 months as he has struggled with injuries and lack of form combined with a long battle with Spanish tax authorities.
Asked about his future plans, the 27-year-old Messi told Olé newspaper he was living “in the present” and was focusing on winning titles with Barcelona after failure to secure major silverware in 2013-14.
“After that we’ll see,” he said, when asked if he was still planning to stay at Barça for his entire professional career. “Things can change a lot in soccer. While I have always said I would like to stay there [at Barça] forever, sometimes things do not work out the way you would like.”
Quizzed about whether he would choose to leave or whether it would happen because of someone else’s decision, Messi added:
“Yes, I have said it many times. If it was up to me I would stay forever. But as I just said, sometimes not everything happens in the way you would like. The more so in football, which is so volatile and where so many things happen. It’s complicated, the more so during the moments like those Barcelona are experiencing right now.”
Two years ago it would have been inconceivable that Messi would leave Barca, but with the arrival of Neymar and then Luis Suárez, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu has two new shiny toys and Messi has fallen down the pecking order at the Camp Nou.
Signing Messi would cost around €120 million, which means a short list of PSG, Man City, Chelsea and possibly Manchester United would be able to afford him.