Messi ‘not sure’ where he will be playing next year

Manchester United one of the few clubs not constrained by FFP thanks to Adidas deal

  Lionel Messi of Argentina and FC Barcelona has suggested he may not be at the club next year. Photograph:  Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

Lionel Messi of Argentina and FC Barcelona has suggested he may not be at the club next year. Photograph: Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

 

Lionel Messi has alerted Manchester United to his potential availability by casting doubt over his future at Barcelona, with the Argentina forward saying he does not know where he will be playing next year.

United are the only English club that could afford to buy Messi, particularly if Barcelona were to demand his €250million buyout fee in a one-off payment.

Although Manchester City have explored bringing the 27-year-old from Barcelona, Uefa’s financial fair play rules mean the champions would struggle to generate enough revenue and have the requisite cash reserves to buy the four-times world player of the year.

Transfer budget

This is not the case at United, where Louis van Gaal has been assured there is no limit on the transfer budget. Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, stated in July: “Whether it’s a world record or not doesn’t really resonate with us. What resonates is an elite player that the manager wants who is going to be a star for Manchester United.”

Alongside the buyout clause is Messi’s five-year contract, agreed last May, worth €20.9 million a season. When this salary is factored in, the total cost of any deal for his transfer would be in the region of an eye-watering €352 million.

Real Madrid are the only club who appear able to rival United’s financial muscle – Paris Saint-Germain would also have the restrictions of FFP to consider – but it seems inconceivable Messi would end up at Barcelona’s fiercest rival.

Messi was asked in Zurich before the Ballon d’Or ceremony, at which he finished second to Cristiano Ronaldo, whether he would be interested in playing at another club, having also turned out, as a youth, for Newell’s Old Boys in Argentina.

“I am not sure If I will go back to Newell’s Old Boys one day,” he said. “I am not sure where I will be next year. I have always said that I will end my career at Barcelona but as Cristiano said: ‘Only God knows the future.’ Things in football can change overnight.”

United’s record €963m, 10-year kit deal with Adidas starts next season, meaning the club are guaranteed €96m a season from that contract alone. With Woodward continuing to expand the club’s portfolio of major sponsors and the fan-base claimed at 659 million around the world, United would be confident that Messi’s signing would be financially successful.

Messi’s comment came hours after he said it was “lies” that there had been conversations between his representatives and City and Chelsea.

Manchester United boss Van Gaal was expected to have held talks with Radamel Falcao after he dropped the striker from United’s 1-0 defeat to Southampton at Old Trafford.

The Colombian was informed he was not in the matchday squad just before the kick-off, Van Gaal deciding he wanted only one striker on the bench – James Wilson.

Guardian Service

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