Regardless of whether you know it as football or soccer, the game is followed by more people than any other sport in the world. The simple act of kicking a ball around seems to engage and entertain like nothing else, meaning that fans are keenly following everything that happens.
There are always intriguing stories maintaining that interest, including some of the most fascinating developments in recent months, which brings added intrigue surrounding how they will evolve over time.
Can Manchester City defend their treble of titles?
During the 2022-23 campaign, Manchester City won the Premier League, FA Cup, and the UEFA Champions League, completing what is often referred to as the true or European treble.
This particular feat has only been achieved once before in English football history, when their neighbors Manchester United lifted the same three trophies in the 1998-99 season, establishing the benchmark that other clubs have sought to equal ever since.
Under the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson through the nineties and noughties, Manchester United enjoyed unprecedented success, including that remarkable treble-winning season.
Nevertheless, repeating that feat of claiming all three trophies in one single campaign was always beyond reach. Indeed, some believe that repeating the feat is practically impossible, whenever considering the probabilities involved in such a competitive sport.
Guided by Spanish coach Pep Guardiola, this will certainly be the objective for Manchester City, as they seek to defend those three titles in 2023-24. All the more interesting, when checking the latest odds via Betway on 23rd June this year, they are priced as early outright favorites in all three competitions. Using the fractional format, the Citizens are valued at a price of -150 odds for the Premier League, +300 for the FA Cup, and +200 for the UEFA Champions League.
As the outright favorite to win all three competitions again, clearly, the oddsmakers believe the feat is entirely within the capabilities of this magnificent Manchester City team. Doing so would be truly monumental, especially given how difficult the defense of any one individual title will be. Observing how they fare will provide entertainment, as rival clubs across England and Europe aim to deny Guardiola’s team from achieving further glories.
Will the 2026 FIFA World Cup feature Lionel Messi?
Across the whole of North America, there’s an incredible sense of excitement about getting to see Lionel Messi playing at stadiums throughout the region.
Following several years of gossip and speculation, the world’s greatest soccer player has finally made the switch, joining MLS franchise Inter Miami, who never gave up on the possibility of luring this phenomenally talented player to their cause.
Easily the most famous and recognized name in soccer, and considered by many to be the greatest player of all time, Messi has become the most successful icon the game has ever witnessed.
Collectively and individually, the Argentinian maestro has won more trophies than any other player, alongside more personal honors than anyone else, including the coveted Ballon d’Or award on seven separate occasions.
Now that Messi has made the switch to MLS, marking what could be the final move of his illustrious career, soccer fans are keen to see this fascinating football icon in action.
His contract is estimated to be worth around $60 million per year, according to AP news, which also reports that his deal runs until the end of the 2025 season, with an option to extend into 2026. This has fueled widespread speculation about when he will eventually choose to retire.
The 2026 FIFA World Cup will be jointly hosted by the United States, Mexico, and Canada, which means that Messi has an added incentive to continue playing, due to the tournament being largely played in his new country of residence.
Given that Messi will be 39 by then, much will depend upon his own health and fitness levels, but captaining Argentina once last time also presents him with one last dance on the biggest soccer stage of them all.
Saudi Arabia keen to buy up the best players
When the 2022 FIFA World Cup was hosted in Qatar, the tiny country became the first Middle East nation to host the international championship. Although their own team didn’t fare so well, Saudi Arabia undoubtedly caused one of the major shocks of the tournament, mounting a spectacular comeback to beat an Argentina side captained by Lionel Messi. Some observers even claimed this result was one of the biggest upsets in soccer history.
The following day, Time reported that King Salman bin Abdulaziz was so proud of his compatriots, he actually declared a national holiday in Saudi Arabia to celebrate this achievement.
Unfortunately, the team went on to lose their next group matches and was eliminated from the tournament, although this didn’t quench the growing thirst for soccer. Impressive plans were already in place to continue boosting the profile of Saudi soccer.
Just as astonishing, following a public rift with Manchester United towards the end of 2022, global soccer icon Cristiano Ronaldo accepted a huge financial offer to join Al Nassr in the Saudi Professional League.
Having already secured one of the biggest names in the sport, the country has now embarked upon a massive drive to lure more star players, marking what could be a new era in the business of soccer.
2022 Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema has now left Real Madrid for Al-Ittihad, joined by his French compatriot N’Golo Kante, both set to earn massive salaries over the next four years.
Portugal international Ruben Neves has also joined Al-Hilan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, and more stellar names appear set to join Saudi clubs in the coming months. This could mark a huge shift in the global game, amidst ambitions to become one of the strongest leagues around.
Fascinating stories to follow
Manchester City has the opportunity to set new milestones. Lionel Messi could be set for a Hollywood ending to his wonderful career in America. Saudi Arabia might become the new hotbed for the biggest footballing names.
Over the next couple of years, these are certainly three key soccer narratives that will capture the imaginations of fans around the world, eager to see how things eventually pan out.