Five players who could replace Lionel Messi at Barcelona after transfer request from Kylian Mbappe to Jadon Sancho

BARCELONA are officially in crisis.

Ronald Koeman succeeded Quique Setien last week after the Catalan giants' horrendous Champions League humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in Lisbon.


But if club chiefs thought that the appointment of a club legend would placate his wounded stars… they were badly mistaken.

And yesterday things went from very bad to utterly catastrophic at Camp Nou when club talisman Lionel Messi shocked the football world by outlining his intention to leave the club this summer.

A battle in the courts is likely to follow, as Barca desperately try and ensure that they at least receive a transfer fee for their iconic No10.

But doing so would be just the beginning – even with money, how on earth do you replace a six-time Ballon d'Or winner?

We take a look at a few of their options this summer.

MESSI TRANSFER NEWS LIVE: Breaking news on stunning exit from Barcelona

LAUTARO MARTINEZ

Barcelona have long been chasing the Inter Milan striker, although seem to have fallen behind Manchester City in the race for the Argentine.

But ironically should Messi, 33, join either City or Inter, that could open the door for Barca to pounce on the £81million-rated striker.

Part of the appeal of Barcelona for the 21-goal striker was believed to be the opportunity to link up with compatriot Messi – but perhaps Koeman could convince him with the allure of being his idol's replacement.

NEYMAR

A deal that looked destined to happen last summer now seems a long shot.

The Brazilian was desperate to return to Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain – with the failure to land him a factor in Messi's unhappiness over the last 12 months.

Whether or not Neymar would still be interested in returning without Messi, however, remains to be seen.

But perhaps the 28-year-old could be enticed by the prospect of finally being the main man at Camp Nou.

JADON SANCHO

Borussia Dortmund was the club that Barcelona turned to in the wake of losing Neymar three years ago – and perhaps they could do the same this around.

On that occasion they landed Ousmane Dembele for around £130m – thinking they'd bought the hottest young winger around.

And while it hasn't totally worked out, perhaps they could try and do something similar with Jadon Sancho.

Manchester United are desperate to sign the 20-year-old – but with the trail having seemingly gone cold – maybe Barcelona could swoop in to sign the English star.

KYLIAN MBAPPE

Now this would be fighting fire with fire.

If you're losing the defining footballer of a generation, why not try and replace him with the next one?

Kylian Mbappe, 21, is undoubtedly a future Ballon d'Or winner, although many feel that his future will eventually lie away from Paris Saint-Germain.

The Frenchman is believed to have dreamed of Real Madrid as a kid, but if Barca can negotiate a big fee for Messi – why not give prising Mbappe from PSG a go?

SADIO MANE

If Barcelona want to recruit a bona fide superstar to replace Messi, they could do a lot worse than Liverpool's Sadio Mane.

They've shown an interest in the Reds star previously, but their move for Philippe Coutinho prohibited them from going for Liverpool players – unless they wanted to pay an extra £90m on top of any fee.

But now that the clause has expired, the 28-year-old is likely to be well and truly on their radar.

Mane's dynamism and goal scoring ability would do wonders for Barcelona – but you'd imagine that the Senegalese sensation would have to push for a move.

FROM WITHIN?

If Barcelona DON'T get a fee, this is likely what they'll have to rely on.

  • LIVE: Latest news on Messi's exit
  • Messi demanded transfer after Koeman told him "privileges are over"
  • The Argentine star faxed his decision to Barcelona
  • Rio Ferdinand claims Chelsea are trying to sign Messi
  • Man City favourites to sign him ahead of Man Utd, Inter and PSG
  • Messi revealed to follow Man City and Chelsea on Twitter

Maybe Ansu Fati, 17, will develop into a genuine superstar – he certainly showed encouraging signs in his debut season.

Or perhaps Antoine Griezmann could flourish more as the team's star? Matching the status that he had at Atletico Madrid.

Failing that, there's always Martin Braithwaite…

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