Barcelona have four players who could take Lionel Messi’s No 10 shirt after PSG transfer

Lionel Messi arrives in Paris after agreeing PSG deal

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When the dust of Lionel Messi’s Barcelona exit and subsequent move to Paris Saint-Germain finally settles, next will come the debate over his iconic No 10 shirt. The Argentine donned the jersey for 13 of his 17 years in the club’s senior team but must now hand it over to a new incumbent. 

Barca’s notable beef with La Liga’s rule book is set to be intensified as the Spanish football authorities do not allow clubs to retire shirt numbers. 

It means that the Catalan club are likely to eventually pass on Messi’s shirt to another of their stars, even if they unofficially set it aside for a period of time.  

Messi became synonymous with Barca’s No 10 shirt and donned it for many of his most memorable moments at the club.  

But Barca’s inability to re-register the 34-year-old after he became a free agent in July means that he has sensationally had to depart and will now join PSG. 

Express Sport picks out four Barca stars who could take over from Messi. 

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Sergio Aguero 

The obvious candidate for the number is Messi’s close friend and Argentina team-mate Aguero. No 10 was Aguero’s number for six seasons at Manchester City after three years wearing 16.  

The 33-year-old has joined Barca on a free transfer after allowing his contract with the Premier League champions to expire.  

He perhaps thought he was going to have the chance to play with Messi at club level for the first time and will be disappointed about the legendary forward’s move to PSG. 

Aguero is likely to be the player who shoulders the goal-scoring responsibility at Barca following Messi’s departure.  

He might also be best equipped to cope with the huge pressure that comes with wearing the number. Aguero was presented with the No 19 shirt upon his arrival but could still swap.  

Lost amid the Messi story is whether Barca can even register Aguero, although a calf injury is expected to him out for the first 10 weeks – allowing them slightly more time to reduce their wage bill. 

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There is some sentiment in passing the number made synonymous with Messi to their brightest young prospect, even if Pedri is not a product of La Masia.  

Pedri has been outstanding since moving to Barca from Las Palmas last summer and in May became the second youngest player in the club’s history to play 50 matches.  

A taxing 2020-21 season means that the 18-year-old might not be seen for a while, though.  

The 18-year-old played in each of Spain’s six matches at Euro 2020 before being controversially flown out to Tokyo to compete at the Olympics.  

It meant that Pedri played in 73 games for club and country from September to August and is long overdue a rest. 

Regardless, his diminutive and technically excellent playing style makes him a possible candidate.

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Memphis Depay 

Another new signing who could take on the shirt is Memphis, the former Manchester United winger whose reputation has soared since leaving Old Trafford in 2017.  

The 27-year-old moved to Lyon and starred for the Ligue 1 side, scoring 76 goals in 178 games.  

Like Aguero, he allowed to contract to expire at the end of June and opted to join Barca.  

Memphis wore No 10 in his final season at Lyon, having also worn the numbers nine and 11.  

It appears that he has been handed the No 9 jersey at the Catalan club, formerly worn by Luis Suarez.  

But you may expect him to be among the players fighting for No 10 now that it has become available. 

Iliax Moriba

What better way to convince a highly rated prospect to remain than giving them the former shirt number of the club’s biggest icon? 

Moriba is widely reported to have turned down a new deal at the Nou Camp having entered the final 12 months of his contract.  

The 18-year-old made 14 La Liga appearances and even scored his maiden senior goal last term but was shunned by boss Ronald Koeman as soon as it became apparent that there were differences over fresh terms.  

A host of Europe’s top clubs are interested in signing the attacking midfielder, who has played for Spain at under-17 level but has been linked with a switch to Guinea – the country of his birth.  

Mundo Deportivo have reported that Moriba’s agent is simply ignoring Barca’s correspondence, with the club providing a deadline of Sunday for their latest offer. 

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