Barcelona fans have not had the best of weeks after news broke that star player and club legend Lionel Messi could leave the Nou Camp after he clashed with officials. They had their woes compounded when the five-time European champions were dumped out of the Spanish Copa Del Rey by hosts Atheltic Bilbao at the quarterfinal stage on Thursday night.
Athletic Bilbao are through to the semifinals of the competition after they beat Barcelona 1-0 courtesy the late goal from Inaki Williams.
For Messi, troubles started when Barcelona sporting director and former teammate Eric Abidal called out the players for the dismissal of Ernesto Valverde.
According to him, the attitude of the Barcelona players led to the exit of Valverde who was replaced Quique Setien last month some days after he was sacked. Lionel Messi was swift in his response as he called on Eric Abidal to be specific about his namecalling.
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Lionel Messi has been linked with several clubs on the back of the row with Abidal including Manchester City though manager Pep Guardiola was quick to point out that he wants the great Argentine to finish his career at the Nou Camp. Messi played under Nou Camp legend Guardiola for many years at Barcelona.
Let’s take a look at the clubs that could afford to pay the €40m annual salary of Messi if the 32-year-old decides to do the unthinkable by leaving Barcelona this summer.
1. Manchester City
The Premier League champions have the highest wage bill in the English top-flight with £145m paid to players annually. The Citizens can easily afford Lionel Messi’s salary.
2. Manchester United
The Red Devils have a wage bill of £135m on a yearly basis and they are only second to noisy neighbours Manchester City. The Red Devils gave Chilean flop Alexis Sanchez around £500,000 weekly and they have the capacity to pay Messi.
3. Real Madrid
The second highest-earning football club according to the recently released Deloitte Money League and they can afford to pay Messi that salary but the only stumbling block would be his affiliation with arch-rivals Barcelona.