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Lionel Messi Next Club Odds: Back to Barca? Or To MLS?

Joe Short for Bookies.com

Joe Short  | 6 mins

Lionel Messi Next Club Odds: Back to Barca? Or To MLS?

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Betting sites believe Lionel Messi’s next club is a coin toss between a team in Saudi Arabia and Barcelona.

Messi is set to leave Paris Saint-Germain after two seasons in Paris, and there remains intense speculation over where he might end up.

A return to Barcelona would be something of a fairy tale and help restore the broken relationship between the player and the club, which shattered in 2021 when he departed for Paris. But other options include a highly lucrative move to Saudi Arabia where Messi could trump Cristiano Ronaldo’s $213 million annual salary in the desert state.

Furthermore, betting apps are speculating on the possibility of Messi moving to the MLS or staying in Europe, with a range of Premier League clubs supposedly open to signing him.

Every summer the soccer betting world is treated to a Messi transfer saga – but this one seems real. The World Cup winner needs a new team and betting sites think they know where he’s going.

The word is Messi will decide on his new club this week, but while we wait, let's take a look at the options.

Lionel Messi Next Club Odds 

TeamOddsImplied Probability 
FC Barcelona+20033.3%
Al-Hilal+22530.8%
Inter Miami+37521.1%
Manchester City+85010.5%
Bayern Munich+15006.3%
Napoli+15006.3%
The Field+75011.8%

Odds compiled by Bookies.com handicapper Adam Thompson. They are for entertainment purposes only and do not reflect odds that may be available on legal betting apps or UK betting sites.

Potential Landing Spots for Messi

At 35, this could be Messi’s last club. The man who played for Barcelona since he was a little boy made the surprise move in 2021 to leave Spain for PSG. It has not been a happy existence in Paris. Messi has played with two other offensive superstars in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, but has not delivered the Champions League success that his club – and its owners – demand.

Messi was partially signed by PSG’s Qatari owners to be the face of the 2022 World Cup, hosted in Qatar. Now that’s over, Messi has less use for the owners. What’s more, he recently took an unauthorized visit to Saudi Arabia with his family. Qatar and Saudi are not good friends, and Messi was subsequently punished.

The trip fueled speculation that Messi would soon make a summer transfer to a Saudi club, and the bookmakers have taken notice. Here are the top viable choices for Messi’s next club this year.

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Any Saudi Team

It’s not known which team would acquire Messi were he to move to Saudi, but it’s certain that the national government would help fund the transfer. This is what happened with Ronaldo last year, when he secured a move to Al Nasser. His salary: $215 million a year, for two years. 

Messi would probably get more than that but Ronaldo’s experience in Saudi could serve as a warning for the 35-year-old seeking his next step. That’s because Ronaldo has had a mediocre season in Saudi and Al Nasser haven’t won the league.

Does Messi want to play in minor league, away from Europe or the Americas, and earn very little prestige less than a year after winning the World Cup with Argentina? Perhaps not.

Barcelona

Surely the ultimate transfer is a move back to Barcelona, right? After all, this is Messi’s spiritual home. The problem is that Barcelona don’t really have the money to rival the Saudi state. In fact, that was the reason Messi departed Barca in the first place.

Two years since his controversial exit and Barcelona are still in a dire financial situation. They have secured funding to redevelop the Nou Camp stadium, but their transfer policy will be hit this summer.

Signing Messi would cost a lot of money, and Barca are thriving without him. Do they even need him? Probably not. But Barcelona don’t always do things logically (see Philippe Coutinho’s $177m signing in 2018 as a prime example) and they could swoop for Messi if they can finance it.

Inter Miami

And then there is America. If the Saudi riches or an emotional return to Barcelona doesn’t work for Messi, then how about the MLS? There is serious talk of him moving to Inter Miami, which has a big Latino population and which would make Messi their new god.

Miami would perhaps be the perfect fit for Messi, although working under Phillip Neville may not be his favored choice of coach. Still, a move to the MLS is a well-trodden path and what Messi doesn’t earn in wages, he could earn in endorsements.

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Manchester City

This is highly unlikely but bookmakers think there’s a 7% chance Messi could team up with Pep Guardiola again, this time at Manchester City. Guardiola coached Messi to super-stardom at Barcelona but hasn’t managed him since. 

Put the pair together and, with Erling Haaland in the City team too, this squad could be unstoppable.

The big problem around this move is the sheer pace of the Premier League. This is elite-level, fast football and Messi at 35 isn’t as resilient as he once was. Playing in France for two seasons has been easy compared to competing in a fourth straight game in 10 days over the Christmas period in Manchester.

Napoli

Italy could come calling for Messi, just as Ronaldo ended up in Juventus after leaving Real Madrid. The one place romantics would love to see Messi arrive at is Napoli. Not only are Napoli the reigning Italian champions, they are also Diego Maradona’s club. 

They play at Diego Maradona Stadium, and the city is adorned with his image. The only player to ever come close to rivaling Maradona’s majesty in Argentina is Messi. A move to Napoli would not be financially beneficial for the player, but what a story it would be!

Best of the Rest

There are some other options for Messi that betting sites are willing to consider. In England, Newcastle now have the money of the Saudi state to pay whatever wages he wants. Manchester United and Chelsea are also supposedly options – certainly the former if the Qataris buy the club this summer.

Then there is Bayern Munich, the German champions who have the status to match Messi’s ambitions. If the player wants to win more league titles and the Champions League then Bayern is not a bad shout.

But one team ruled out in the betting is Real Madrid. It would kill his legacy to move to Barcelona’s bitterest rivals. 

Barca “socios” can just about forgive his switch to PSG. To go to Madrid would probably cause a riot.

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About the Author

Joe Short, a contributor to Bookies.com, is a freelance journalist and former editor at the Daily Express, covering various sports, including soccer, darts and tennis.