FC Barcelona have reportedly stepped up their efforts to keep Messi on board by drawing up a transfer shortlist of five players.
A police raid at Barcelona’s offices dominated the headlines for a change on Monday, but gossip surrounding Lionel Messi’s future is never far off the radar.
The 33-year-old can leave Camp Nou in the summer once his contract expires. He has remained coy about his future plans so far, intent on seeing how things develop at Barcelona before making a decision at the end of the season.
Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain are the rumored frontrunners to sign him should he end a career-long association with the Blaugrana.
According to the Express, however, Barcelona hope signing these five players may help persuade Messi to commit his future at Camp Nou by putting pen to paper on a new contract.
Erling Haaland – Borussia Dortmund
The 20-year-old is pretty much a top transfer target for every major European club. He has already scored 43 goals in only 44 appearances for Borussia Dortmund since his €20m arrival from RB Salzburg in January 2020.
Reports have stated, though, Haaland’s release clause in his Dortmund contract won’t become active until next season.
Matthijs de Ligt – Juventus
The Dutch center-back rebuffed interest from Barcelona in 2019 in favor of joining Juventus instead. He has since had his fair share of trials in Turin, but has become an almost ever-present figure in Andrea Pirlo’s injury-stricken defense.
But reuniting with former Ajax teammate Frenkie de Jong and his old Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman, if he stays as Barcelona manager next season of course, could tempt De Ligt to help provide some stability in the Blaugrana backline.
Jules Kounde – Sevilla
The 22-year-old has impressed against Messi and Barcelona this season, especially in a recent Copa del Rey clash. His performances have allegedly made him a top transfer target for several European clubs, including Real Madrid and Manchester City.
But a reported €90m release clause in his Sevilla contract makes a Camp Nou switch an unlikely scenario given Barcelona’s financial problems.
Georginio Wijnaldum – Liverpool
The 30-year-old midfielder’s contract with Liverpool expires at the end of the season. Talks over an extension have made little to no progress, implying a summer departure from Anfield is likely.
Wijnaldum’s former Netherlands coach Koeman was keen to take him to Barcelona in the last summer transfer window. He may attempt to entice him again this year.
Sergio Aguero – Manchester City
Given that Luis Suarez recently claimed Barcelona showed him the door last summer due to his age, this one is a little surprising.
But the 32-year-old Manchester City record goalscorer is out of contract in the summer. Reports state the Catalan club favor Aguero for his possible free agency, close friendship with Messi, and solid goal record.