Lionel Messi
Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates a goal against Elche. Messi is rumored to be leaving Camp Nou after the season. REUTERS/Albert Gea

It’s looking more and more likely that FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi will become the most wanted man in the world this summer; at least in relation to the world of soccer that is. It’s no secret that Messi has been unhappy with the Barcelona brass and his season of discontent at Camp Nou has most recently had the four-time Ballon d’Or winner saying, “I don’t know where I will be playing next season.”

Barcelona is doing their best to quell rumors that Messi is leaving by showing a united front. Both Luis Enrique and President Josep Maria Martomeu have been adamant that they have no plans to move Messi this summer despite rumors to the contrary. Recently, Barca has tried to shift the attention away from Messi and on to their feud with FIFA with announcement that they have cut off all ties to the soccer federation after they banned the club from transferring for two consecutive windows.

Nevertheless, it’s fun to speculate potential landing spots for one of the best soccer players on the planet so we decided to delve into the destinations for Messi:

Manchester City - Man City is one of the few teams who could afford to sign Messi. Despite reports that they are out of the race, they remain firmly in the hunt to land Messi in the future. Recently, Manchester City manager, Manuel Pellegrini, confirmed to the media that his team could afford to sign the Argentinian star and would be interested in his services.

Real Madrid – Los Blancos manager, Carlo Ancelotti, was asked on Wednesday whether or not he could envision Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi on the pitch together in the same uniform. “I believe so yes…each one has their own team and their own history, but to have both in the same team would be a great thing for us.” ESPN has already targeted Real Madrid as one of two teams who could land the Argentine star based on financial flexibility and the financial fair play (FFP) rules. Madrid has the business model and financial structure to afford the $300 to $450 million necessary to sign Messi.

Paris St.-Germain – Last month, it was widely reported that PSG was preparing a record-breaking transfer offer of over $350 million to Barcelona for Messi. Le Parisien was the first to report the potential offer that would pair Messi with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edison Cavani. That front three would be fatal for opponents, but PSG would need to rely heavily on sponsorship dollars in order for the deal to happen. PSG needs to be careful after a $250 million dollar shirt deal with Qatar Tourism Authority garnered a $30 million fine by UEFA.

Manchester United – If there’s a front-runner to land Messi it appears to be Louis Van Gaal’s boys at United. Not only do they have the financial means necessary to afford such a record deal, but also, like Real Madrid, they have the ownership intact to raise the necessary funds without using sponsorship dollars and staying within the FFP rules. Additionally, Barcelona would never agree to ship Messi to their rivals in La Liga, and would prefer to send him to the Premier League where they won’t have to play against him multiple times throughout the year. With their new television deal and partnership with Adidas, Messi to Man U makes the most sense.

Chelsea – The English club seems to be the destination of choice for Messi, but it would take a miracle to make the move happen financially. Despite current Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho and Messi being familiar with each other, the accountant pulling the trigger on the record transfer would have the final say. Mourinho doesn’t believe the numbers will add up, but Messi himself might have hinted where he’s headed after following Chelsea FC on Instagram last week.

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