Bhaichung Bhutia shortlists Lionel Messi's next clubs

The former Indian captain believes the Argentine superstar wants to experiment with a different challenge in his career.

By Rahul Venkat

Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia feels football superstar Lionel Messi will continue playing in Europe after informing FC Barcelona on Tuesday that he wishes to leave the club.

“I think the three choices Messi would consider are Paris St Germain, Manchester City and Liverpool,” Bhaichung Bhutia told the Olympic Channel.

“It is difficult to say whether he will be a natural fit at any club or league as there are a lot of factors involved.

“At the end of the day, it is the team and the manager who need to work together to deliver results. The manager is more accountable than a single player,” Bhutia said from Kolkata.

Bhutia’s opinion falls in line with several reports that suggest the Beijing 2008 gold-medallist might move to Manchester City due to the presence of former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain.

Double Olympic champion Andy Murray and another ex-Indian football captain Renedy Singh have also backed that assertion.

Why does Messi want to leave?

Bhutia is well-aware of the factors behind changing clubs. He had long associations with top Indian clubs and Kolkata giants East Bengal were among them.

Bhutia also became the first Indian footballer to play in England when he signed for Bury FC in 1999.

His story has parallels with Messi, who signed for Barcelona as a 13-year-old and rose through the ranks to eventually become captain.

However, Bhutia believes the Argentine superstar may have felt the need for a ‘new challenge while he is still at the peak of his powers.’

“Messi has achieved everything a footballer can at club level, so I do not think there is any harm in experimenting at this stage of his career,” opined Bhutia.

“He can still play at the top level for four or five years.”

Where will Lionel Messi play next season?

So, what factors might Messi consider before making his decision?

“The commitment and desire of the club to win something major will be the decisive factors, but I think fans are any footballer’s first priority because they stimulate you to do well,” said Bhutia.

“So Messi might move to a place where the fans will give him as much love as they did in Barcelona. It will be an emotional decision for him too and I’m sure he will miss the Barca fans.”