Despite winning the Champions League, La Liga, and Copa Del Rey, Lionel Messi has had a rather tumultuous year at Barcelona.
Most of this is because of a niggling tax case that has seen Messi threatened with a spell in prison. Messi, 28, and his father, Jorge, are facing a trial over an alleged £3.1 million ($4.75 million) tax fraud.
Because of all of this turmoil, rumors have emerged that Lionel Messi is actually considering a transfer away from Barcelona.
Obviously, because of Lionel Messi's grandiose talents and the fact that he is widely regarded to be one of, if not the best player in the history of the game, potential buyers have already started to form an orderly queue just in case this speculation actually proves to be correct.
These reports originally emerged courtesy of the Sun, via the Mirror, who have insisted that Messi's recent tax problems in Barcelona are one of two reasons why the diminutive Argentinian is considering a transfer.
In fact, if the speculation is to be believed, then there is only one destination for Lionel Messi if he decides to depart Barcelona: England.
The press insisted that Lionel Messi, who has spent 14 years playing with Barcelona, wants to test himself in the Premier League, where the competition is much more intense than in Spain. In fact, Manchester City, Chelsea, and Manchester United have allegedly already contacted Lionel Messi's representatives, while friends of Messi's at each club have also started to try to convince him to move to the UK.
In La Liga, Barcelona and Real Madrid are usually able to decimate most of their competition. Of course, there are a few exceptions, with Atletico Madrid having won the title two seasons ago.
But in the Premier League, it's widely believed that any team, even the ones at the top, are susceptible to defeat on their day, even if they're playing a side rooted to the bottom of the table. Just look at Chelsea's recent run of form. Jose Mourinho's team won the Premier League at a canter last season, but they've already lost four out of their opening nine games.
If Messi was to move to England, there would only be three clubs that would realistically be able to purchase him.
Manchester City and Chelsea are both owned by billionaires who would go above and beyond in their quest to purchase the forward, while, as one of the richest clubs in the world, Manchester United's turn in revenue means that they would also be able to sign Messi. Unlike Chelsea and Manchester City, Manchester United would also be able to do so within the constraints of FIFA's financial fair play system. However, lawyers are increasingly making that less and less of an issue.
Of course, Messi being linked with a transfer away from the Nou Camp is one thing. It actually happening is a completely different beast.
That's because Messi's Barcelona contract is currently only due to expire in June 2018. So, in order to actually prize the forward away, any potential buyer would have splash out around €250 million (around $275 million) to land him.
And that's before they even begin contract negotiations. It's believed that Messi is making around €300,000 a week ($330,000), and he would want a contract of around five years.
If a potential transfer is going to happen, clubs are going to have to wait until Lionel Messi returns to full fitness. The forward is currently out with a knee ligament injury, and he refuses to even predict when he might be back in action.
During a recent interview, Messi explained, "I am improving every day without setting myself any targets. I have always said that I don't set myself any dates because it isn't up to me."
"As much as I would like to play tomorrow, the doctors wouldn't let me," Messi continued. "When they tell me that I have recovered completely will be the time that I will make my return onto the pitch."
[Image via Matthias Hangst/Getty]