Lionel Messi raises idea of finishing his career in MLS

Lionel Messi rarely gives interviews so his wide-ranging interview with Jordi Evole of Spanish television network La Sexta was closely followed.

The 33-year-old Argentine is out of contract at Barcelona at the end of June and is free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with other clubs as of Jan. 1.

On its web site, Barcelona quoted extensively from the interview with the headline "My life is Barcelona." Indeed, Messi reiterated how much Barcelona, which he joined at the age of 13, has meant to him, but he made it clear he's not optimistic about the club's future, which was one of the reasons he tried to leave after the 2019-20 season ended in July.

"I'm eternally grateful to the club for everything," he said, "but it felt like a cycle had ended and I needed a change."

A contract dispute followed with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, and Messi ultimately decided to stay for one more season after it became clear he might not win in court and no one would pay the transfer fee Barcelona was demanding.

"The president didn't want to let me go," said Messi, "and then he started to leak things to make me look like the bad guy. Then everything that happened happened, but I am still calm that I did what was right at that moment."

Barcelona is in fifth place in LaLiga, and Messi's scoring production -- 7 goals in 14 games -- is his lowest in more than a decade.

"I knew this would be a transition year," he said, "and I want to fight for the Champions League and league titles."

Bartomeu quit in late October ahead of a vote of no confidence. Even though his nemesis is gone, Messi is still concerned about Barcelona's future.

"The club is very bad [financially], very bad," he said. "It's going to be difficult to return to where we were. It won't be easy for the new president to turn things around. I hope whoever wins does things well to get this great club back to where it deserves to be."

Messi did not want to tip his hand about where he will play in 2021-22.

"No, I don't have anything clear until the end of the year," he said. "I am going to wait for the season to finish. The important thing is to think about the team and to try and win titles, not to get distracted with other issues. I don't know what will happen. I am focused on what we have in front of us over the next six months. It would not be right to tell you what I am going to do after that because even I don't know."

Manchester City or Paris St. Germain have been most often mentioned as Messi's next destination, so he created a surprise when he brought up MLS, saying it's always been his hope of "experiencing life and that league in the United States" before retiring and settling in Barcelona.

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3 comments about "Lionel Messi raises idea of finishing his career in MLS".
  1. R2 Dad, December 28, 2020 at 9:11 a.m.

    Don't see it; this is likely misdirection. EPL clubs, with the faster pace, isn't what LM needs to be productive. MLS is similarly a running league, and as Pirlo has pointed out all that running doesn't necessarily lead to better soccer. LM will probably go to Japan where Iniesta is, and since he has learned to play the political game isn't going to show his hand until the paperwork is final and the season is over, as there is no benefit to him in doing so until then.

  2. frank schoon replied, December 29, 2020 at 12:48 p.m.

    R2 , I totally agree with you but I still want him to come to the MLS, period!!!....THIS LEAGUE NEEDS SOMETHING!!!!!!!! , even a polar bear with sneakers on could improve it.  I'm still recovering after Zlatan left... The MLS somehow should have kept Zlatan and offered him to have a couple of better quality players at Galaxy to help him out.  I can understand his frustration receiving passes coming from volkswagens instead from Mercedes.....

    Zlatan's manager stated that Zlatan wasted 2years playing in the MLS for he is doing so fantastic back in Europe playing for AC Milan even at his age, and Sweden is thinking of calling him back up for the national team....

    I would have loved seeing Zlatan and Messi playing in the MLS...

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, December 30, 2020 at 2:54 a.m.

    I think it is possible that he is ready to retire and may be a soccer tourist in MLS. Coming to MLS makes a lot of sense for anyone interested in coaching, owning, or managing a team. For Messi, it also makes sense from a commercial endorsement view too. 

    If Messi did come, it would be the biggest thing for the sport since Pele came to the US. Like Pele, people who don't follow soccer still know who he is.

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