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Argentine journalist: “I wouldn’t rule out Atlético” in Lionel Messi chase

Hold your laughter.

Lionel Messi of Barcelona Press Conference Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Appearing Monday night on DIRECTV Sports, journalist Juan Furlanich may have made viewers’ hearts skip a beat or two as he ran through Lionel Messi’s potential destinations after leaving FC Barcelona.

“(They speak of) PSG, Tottenham, Man United...I wouldn’t rule out Atlético Madrid.”

Let’s put on our tinfoil hats for just a moment.

Yes, Paris Saint-Germain are best-positioned to sign Messi given the seemingly-endless financial reserves into which Qatar Sports Investments can tap. United always have money to burn (except, perhaps, on Kieran Trippier), while Tottenham...sure! Hey, if Conference League-bound Spurs can wield the financial power to make an offer for Messi, what’s stopping Atlético from making one?

Okay, before you interject, aside from LaLiga’s spending controls, which Barcelona president Joan Laporta has spent most of the summer denigrating and blaming for his club’s problems?

(I predict the “other clubs just want us to comply with the rules” line from his press conference Friday will live long in the memory.)

After all, Messi and his family were still in Barcelona on Monday, and he’s been sighted at his home with none other than Luis Suárez — the pair are still close even though they spent the 2020/21 season fighting for the league title on opposite sides.

FC Barcelona v Atletico Madrid - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Never mind that Messi said in an interview with La Sexta last December that he would never play for Atlético — that was eight months ago, before Barça’s latest election, before Laporta understood the chaos he would inherit, and before the player’s tear-filled goodbye.

Messi appeared as surprised as anyone at how his new contract disintegrated.

“This year my family and I were convinced we would stay here,” the 34-year-old said on Sunday. “This is what we all wanted more than anything. We’ve made this our home. We thought we’d be staying here.”

Maybe the talks with PSG really have intensified that rapidly, and the money is too eye-watering to ignore. But doesn’t something feel a little...off about how quickly those negotiations are said to have progressed?

Maybe Messi, who — per his own admission — wasn’t prepared to leave the only club for which he’s ever played, might have a change of heart. Suárez never wanted to stop being his teammate, and vice-versa.

Maybe it’s all in our heads.

Or my head.