END OF AN ERA: Could Barcelona’s main man end up playing football elsewhere? AFP/VNA Photo
It’s extremely rare in the cutthroat footballing world to ever get any real ‘one-club players’.
Steven Gerrard, Mr Liverpool, did the next best thing and after leaving Anfield he only played for one more team, LA Galaxy in the US who would never face Liverpool in a professional competition.
Jamie Carragher only ever played for Liverpool and I wouldn’t bet against Trent Alexander-Arnold only ever wearing the red of his home city club.
But what those three players all have in common is they were all born in the city they went on to represent.
Lionel Messi, on the other hand, is Argentinian and up until this week, I was convinced he would only ever play for one club, Barcelona.
At just six-years-old Messi began his career playing for Newell's Old Boys in the city where he was born, but at the age of 10 was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency.
Newell’s had promised to pay for his treatment, but the money never materialised. River Plate, the biggest club in Argentina, were also interested in signing him but an economic crash in the country left them short of cash, and also unable to pay the medical bills.
With family in Spain, Messi headed to Barcelona for a trial at the age of 13 and after completing growth hormone treatment, signed professional terms and began to play, and shine, for their youth team.
The rest as we all know is history.
Some said Messi, regarded as the greatest footballer ever, would never leave Barca because of the faith they showed in him when he first signed.
While other clubs may have been put off by his medical condition, Barcelona stuck by the young Argentinian and for that reason, Messi has also stuck by them.
But this week the rumour mill is moving at an incredible pace and there are suggestions he may be looking for pastures new.
This is simply because, and I never thought I’d hear myself say this, Barcelona are right now in a complete shambles.
They were humiliated in the Champions League by Bayern Munich and finished below Real Madrid in La Liga, resulting in manager Quique Setien losing his job.
Last season they were also left very red-faced after losing a three-goal advantage to Liverpool in the Champions League.
Watching Barca against Bayern over the weekend the Catalonians looked like a pale imitation of what they once were.
Messi is 33 years old and while he is clearly reaching the end of his playing days, there are still are few good seasons left in him. He is after all arguably the greatest footballer to ever live.
If he does leave, Manchester City are favourites to sign him due to the fact Pep Guardiola has managed him before at Barca.
Manchester United have also been mentioned as a possible destination, but personally I just don’t think they are good enough to turn Messi’s head. I might be wrong.
I would love to see him play in the Premier League and I think it would be brilliant for the English game, but how about this for a possibility.
What if he signed for Leeds United?
Sure, it will never happen in a month of Sundays and the only connection to Lionel and Leeds is the Elland Road manager, Marcelo Bielsa, a fellow countryman of Messi.
But how cool would that be?
The greatest player in the world turning out week-in and week-out for a newly promoted team.
Messi isn’t short of cash, so doesn’t need the money, and if he did wear the white of Leeds we would see just how good the Argentinian is playing for a team nowhere near as good as he is used to.
I know it will never happen but one can only dream. VNS