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Lionel Messi drops Barcelona exit hint

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We see it all the time: minor papers (and that's with all due respect to the Express) talk up big name transfers that are guaranteed to command attention and similarly guaranteed not to happen ever. Lionel Messi to leave Barcelona is the story of the day, and I wouldn't put any faith in that one unless ... there ... are ... quotes?

No, today I live in the present. I want to make a great year and win titles with Barcelona. And nothing more. Then we'll see. Football takes many turns... While I always said that I would always stay there, sometimes not everything happens the way you want.

I've said it many times: if I had my way I would stay forever. But as I just said, it's not always given that you get everything you like.

-Lionel Messi. Source: Ole via Express.

I have lingering doubts as to the authenticity of said quotes, just because they're so explosive, but if this is legitimate it's definitely a major bombshell. As far as I'm aware, Messi hasn't used guerrilla tactics in contract negotiations (unlike, say, Cristiano 'I'm really sad' Ronaldo), and if he's pulling this sort of stunt now he's in a much worse place, Barcelona-wise, than he's ever been before. And that's interesting.

Why is it interesting for us? Because there are probably only four clubs seriously in the running for Messi if he leaves the Camp Nou*. Real Madrid are out for 'I don't want to be murdered' reasons. Most of the rest of Europe's club fail on sporting or economic considerations. And that leaves Bayern Munich as the obvious front-runners, with Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain lagging some way behind. Hey! Chelsea! That's us!

*I'm pretty sure he won't, mind, but I'm far less confident in that than I was yesterday.

Push comes to shove I'd put us fourth out of fourth in the the race for Messi even if he should leave Barcelona. There's no love lost between the Catalans and Chelsea, and adding Jose Mourinho to that mix could only make things more volatile. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't make a serious attempt at him, partially based on the fact that he's an excellent player and mostly based on the fact that we could literally make everyone living in Barcelona cry all at once, which would be the culmination of many years good work.

And Mr. Messi, you know what they say: If you can't beat them without Norwegian assistance, you might as well join them.

Transfer Grade: Messi to Chelsea

Likelihood: 1/10

Hilarity: 10000000/10