Lionel Messi has revealed he will make a decision over his Barcelona future at the end of the season.
Messi came close to departing the Nou Camp after handing in a transfer request in the summer but he reluctantly decided to stay at the club. Barcelona’s former president Josep Maria Bartomeu insisted that Messi’s €700m release clause had to be met for him to leave.
His comments, given in an interview with Spanish TV station La Sexta, could alert Manchester City, who were heavily linked with a move for the player during his summer of uncertainty.
Messi said: “Nothing will be crystal clear before the end of the year. I’ll wait until the season is over.
“What matters now is thinking about the team, finishing the year well and not being distracted by other things.
“I don’t know what will happen. I’m focused on what we have here and battling for whatever we can.
“I’m not thinking about how the year will end. As of today, it wouldn’t be wise for me to say what I’m going to do because I don’t know.”
While he refused to be drawn on his potential next destination, Messi did speak of his close friendship with Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar, and said he would one day like to play in Major League Soccer.
“I’ve always had the dream of playing in another league, in the United States,” he added. “Maybe it will happen, doesn’t have to be right away. Today I am just focused on these next six months.”
Regarding a potential reunion with Neymar at Barcelona, Messi said: “It’ll be difficult to bring in players because the funds aren’t there. We’ll have to bring in plenty of top players to get us competing on all fronts again and they come at a price. Neymar would be extremely expensive.
“How would the club pay PSG for the transfer (of Neymar)? The situation will be tough for the new president, who will have to be intelligent and get everything in order. Changes will be needed for him to do well.
“I don’t know if Neymar said that (that the two would play together next year). You’d have to ask him about what he said. We do chat sometimes and we are in touch.”
Messi also commented on the sale by Barcelona of Luis Suarez to Athletico Madrid, saying he did not understand how the club could allow the striker to move to one of their main rivals.
He said: “What they did seemed crazy to me, because of how he left. He left for free, paying him his contract and a team that fights for the same thing as us.”
Koeman: A coach won’t influence Messi’s future
Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman was asked whether Messi would be more likely to move to Paris Saint-Germain when he decides on his future at the end of the season, with Mauricio Pochettino reportedly set to take over from Thomas Tuchel at the Parc des Princes.
As well as a move to the MLS, a reunion with former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City has been touted as a likely destination for the Argentina international if he chooses to leave the Nou Camp.
Koeman said: “I don’t know and I can’t give you my opinion because even if the papers say that he [Mauricio Pochettino] is going to be [Paris Saint-Germain’s] new coach, I don’t know whether it is true.
“We will face each other in two months [in the Champions League round of 16] and for the moment we can be relaxed. I don’t think Messi’s decision about his future will depend on a particular coach or a particular country.
“I think these are choices that must be taken with one’s family. Therefore, I don’t know if a particular coach can have an influence over his future. I don’t think so.
“I am not going to be more relaxed because Leo said he is going to decide his future at the end of the season. I don’t have a say about it.
“All we can do is to put Leo in the conditions to give his best on the pitch and to keep being what he has always been for this club. Then we’ll see what happens.”