LIONEL MESSI has boarded his £12million private jet to fly home to Barcelona ahead of what could be the biggest week of his career.
The Nou Camp legend, 33, was given an extended break in Argentine over the Christmas period by Barca bosses.
On Tuesday, Messi was spotted hopping on his private plane ready to fly back to Spain.
The Argentine recently promised Barcelona fans he was committed to the club, despite transfer speculation swirling ever since the summer.
Able to leave on a free transfer in the summer of 2020, Messi was expected to rekindle his relationship with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City after falling out with Barca chiefs.
Eventually, Messi stayed on at the club he joined aged just 13.
But now, the superstar forward could do the unthinkable and agree to QUIT Barcelona as early as THIS Friday.
So what does 2021 have in store for Messi with his future very much up in the air? Let's start from the beginning…
In August 2020, Barcelona imploded.
They were thumped 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League having already crumbled in the league, handing rivals Real Madrid the LaLiga crown.
Quique Setien was sacked, Messi handed in a transfer request and president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned amid fierce pressure from fans.
Barcelona somehow managed to convince Messi to stay with the Argentine on the brink of a free transfer to Man City.
While the Barca No10 agreed to stay, he seemed to suggest it would be for one season at most.
Messi has struggled by his phenomenally high standards ever since, with Barcelona also failing to fire on all cylinders.
All season, Messi has been linked with a free move to Man City at the end of the season.
More recently, Neymar has revealed his desire to be back in the same team as his fellow South American, with a move to PSG now on the cards.
Over Christmas, Spanish outlet La Sexta shared an interview with Messi in which the star winger pledged his allegiance to Barcelona… at least for 2020-21.
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."
However, Messi did throw a curveball in there, suggesting he COULD move to the MLS.
Messi continued: "I've always had the dream of playing in another league, in the United States.
"Maybe it will happen, it doesn't have to be right away.
"Today I am just focused on these next six months."
And Messi even suggested Neymar heading 'home' to Barcelona as the Brazilian put it in 2019 would be impossible due to the finances of the deal.
The Argentine added: "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 the pair would play together next year).
"You'd have to ask him about what he said. We do chat sometimes and we are in touch."
While Messi poured cold water on the suggestion of Neymar heading to Barcelona, he didn't rule out himself moving to PSG.
…And he didn't even mention Man City.
At the Etihad, Messi would have the chance to compete for the Premier League title.
As well as that, he could be attributed as the man who helped lead City to their first-ever Champions League crown, should he also help with that.
And then there's the Guardiola effect.
Pep and Messi enjoyed four trophy-laden years together at the Nou Camp and the chance to work under his old boss once more rather than the revolving door of managers at Barcelona could be very appealing.
Cristiano Ronaldo has recently suggested he could move back to Manchester United.
So the chance to go toe-to-toe with his old rival not only in the same league but the same city could tempt Messi further.
Then there's PSG, who boast similar ambitions.
Again, the French club will always be challenging for league honours.
PSG are also pouring money into the club in a bid to break their Champions League duck.
Thomas Tuchel was sacked just before Christmas after a 4-0 win over Strasbourg.
Mauricio Pochettino is the man most-likely to step in to fill the void.
The chance to work under his fellow Argentine could tempt Messi into a move to the French capital, another 'big market' team.
However, the only country Messi specifically mentioned by name was the USA, suggesting a move to the MLS could be on his mind.
Superstars such as David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Cole and Wayne Rooney before him have all had a go at cracking America.
Messi would undoubtedly be the biggest name to every grace the MLS.
The added bonus for Messi here would be moving much, much closer to home.
A flight from Barcelona to Buenos Aires takes around 13 hours – making for a 26-hour round-trip whenever he gets homesick.
Even on a luxury private jet, that's a long old slog.
A flight from Miami, New York or Los Angeles would be a little over HALF that time.
At the age of 33, Messi doesn't have too many years left in his career, at least at his peak.
He will have to consider his next step wisely.
But with Messi able to negotiate pre-contract terms as early as Friday January 1, he'll undoubtedly have suitors banging down the door before he knows it.
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