Wantaway Barcelona forward Lionel Messi will “play wherever he wants” and is good enough to be the best player in any division he chooses, according to Mauricio Pochettino.
Messi informed Barca of his desire to leave the club last week and reportedly believes he can move on a free transfer after activating a clause that allows him to terminate his contract.
However, Barca and LaLiga are of the opinion the €700million release clause in his deal is still intact and will have to be met in full or a transfer fee be agreed with any potential suitor for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to move on.
Messi’s father and agent Jorge met with president Josep Maria Bartomeu on Wednesday to discuss a potential departure, with Manchester City the favourites to sign him.
And Pochettino, who was previously linked with the role of Barca head coach, expects his countryman to have the final say on his future.
634 – Lionel Messi is the @FCBarcelona ‘s Top Scorer ever (634 goals) & only Xavi Hernández (767 games) has played more games than the Argentinian (731) for Barça in all competitions. Institution pic.twitter.com/xZ2uUsjTya
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) August 25, 2020
“Anything can happen. Messi will play wherever he wants – in Spain or the Premier League. He’s ready to be the best in any league,” Pochettino told Argentine outlet Ole.
Pochettino has been out of work since leaving Tottenham in November and was touted as a contender to take over at Camp Nou following Quique Setien’s departure last month.
The former Espanyol player and coach recently backtracked on comments made in 2018 when stating he “would prefer to work on a farm” than manage Barca.
However, Pochettino concedes the damage has been done and he is unlikely to ever be considered for one of world football’s top jobs.
“I think the statements made the fans reluctant to accept me, but at no time did I receive an offer to manage Barca,” he said.
“I was wrong in the way I conveyed that it would be impossible in the future to manage Barcelona. I exaggerated by not leaving an iota of doubt.
“It’s clear that everyone who knows me knows that, from my past and a lot of things, it would be difficult to relate my name to the club. There are things that cannot be put together.”
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