Messi 'always had the dream' to play in US, could leave Barcelona for free in 2021

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Messi 'always had the dream' to play in US, could leave Barcelona for free originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Lionel Messi said he "has always had the dream" of playing in the United States in a 90-minute interview with Spanish journalist Jordi Evolve broadcasted on Telemundo on Sunday. 

“I've always had the dream of playing in another league, in the United States," Messi said. "Maybe it will happen, it doesn't have to be right away. Today I am just focused on these next six months.”

Messi had a public fallout with Barcelona this past summer, even requesting to leave but former president Josep Bartomeu refused. Messi was consistent with what he's said since deciding to stay in Barcelona this season, saying he didn't want to take the club to court even if multiple lawyers told him he would've won. 

Instead, Messi can now negotiate a free transfer once the January transfer window opens up, as the 33-year-old is in the last year of his contract and is free to negotiate terms with other clubs in the final six months of his deal if he doesn't sign a contract extension with Barcelona before then. 

Messi has won the Ballon d'Or awarded to the best player on the planet a record six times and tied Pele's record for the most goals scored with a single club with his 647th last week. Widely regarded as one of the best players of all time, the Argentine would immediately raise the profile of Major League Soccer to new heights. 

D.C. United has really only ever acquired one mega-star in Wayne Rooney, and isn't considered one of the favorites to land the generational talent should he decide to play in the MLS one day. Teams with bigger budgets like the LA Galaxy, where Messi could go Hollywood and steal the nation's soccer spotlight, or even David Beckham's Inter Miami, where he could join up with fellow Argentine Gonzalo Higuain. 

Because Messi's exuberant wages go far beyond those of typical "designated players" in MLS, the league could offer Messi what they gave Beckham -- a discounted rate at owning an expansion club. 

Messi's unsettled sentiments expressed after crashing out of the Champions League at the end of last season has only carried on to this season, as he admitted “Barca is a great club that is not today in the place where it should be.”

Barcelona are in fifth place and have dropped 15 piotns through 14 La Liga games, their worst start to a season since Messi's debut season in 2007. Even so, Messi has started 17 of Barcelona's 20 games across all competitions despite a quick turnaround offseason and leads the team in scoring with 10 goals.