5 Teams Who Could Buy out Leo Messi's €250m Release Clause
Lionel Messi has agreed his sixth contract with Barcelona, keeping the Argentinian at the Nou Camp until 2018. It is understood he will earn around €11 million per year in the new deal, while his buy-out clause has been increased from €150 million to €250 million.
As B/R's Ben Chodos notes, Messi enjoys an inextricable relationship with the Catalan club and it is difficult to see him playing elsewhere.
However, if he were to be tempted away from the Blaugrana, here are five teams who could afford to break his contract shackles...
Thanks to the bottomless pockets of the Qatari Investment Authority, Paris Saint-Germain are ambitious with their transfer aspirations.
A move for Messi would not be a question of money, but the Argentinian's desire to move to France would be a stumbling block. He recently told France Football that he does not find the PSG project "tempting."
Former chief executive Garry Cook once admitted that Man City accidentally bid €35 million for the Barca superstar after the words "Messi" and "messy" were confused in a telephone conversation with the club's Sheikh owner (via the Daily Mail).
The Citizens have been continually linked to the Atomic Flea since their takeover, and he would certainly be accommodated among Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko in the front line.
Barca's vice president once denied that an offer of €50 million plus Mario Balotelli was made (Sport via ESPN Star). Meanwhile, The Sun estimate that Messi would cost City £312 million, assuming he maintained the same wages.
That would not help the Premier League champions' compliance with FIFA's Financial Fair Play rules.
Bookmakers are offering short odds of 4/6 (via Ladbrokes) that Messi will play in the Premier League at some point. If he doesn't end up at Eastlands, he could be lured by Abramovich's millions in West London.
Chelsea's oligarch owner is prone to whims and could easily forgo another super yacht to cover the €250 million buyout clause (which, incidentally, would be enough to buy 74 percent of their current squad, according to its €387 million valuation on TransferMarkt.co.uk).
If Chelsea manage to lure Pep Guardiola from his New York sojourn, the rumours will only grow stronger.
Zenit St. Petersburg
Chelsea sponsor GAZPROM own Russian Premier League champions Zenit, giving them the freedom to spend an unprecedented €80 million on Hulk and Axel Witsel before the start of the season.
Those transfers haven't gone too smoothly so far (via RT.com), prompting rumours that both players are on the trading block for the January window.
Zenit would have no problems cutting Barcelona an eye-watering check for Messi, but he may not feel too welcomed by the supporters group, who only wish to see players from "brotherly Slav nations" in the lineup (via Yahoo! Sports).
You may feel that there is more chance of Jose Mourinho riding into the Bernabeu on a unicorn than Messi switching to Los Blancos, but hear this one out.
If "sad" Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Madrid in the summer—a likely prospect, according to many sources—there will be a Galactico-shaped hole in the squad. Who better to replace C-Ron than his fiercest competitor?
Other players to have made the switch from Barca to Real include Bernd Schuster, Michael Laudrup and Luis Figo.
A La Liga move for Messi wouldn't be out of the question at some point in the future, but he may have to dodge the flying pig heads on his return to the Nou Camp.