After almost 20 years, 10 La Liga titles, six Ballon d’Ors, four UEFA Champions League titles, and numerous other club trophies and individual honours, Lionel Messi is ready to end his association with FC Barcelona. He is ready, but unfortunately for him, the club isn’t and are unwilling to make it happen. This isn’t the first time that rumours have emerged of Barcelona’s most famous player wanting out of Camp Nou, but this is the first time the player himself has declared such an intention.
Feelings that might have started after throwing away a three-goal lead to Liverpool in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League last year arguably came to a boil during this year’s staging. In the COVID-19-affected format of this season’s tournament, the Catalans endured an 8-2 drubbing from Bayern Munich – the worst defeat ever suffered in the knock-out phase of the competition.
The embarrassment of such a defeat would have tested even the most loyal of players, and Messi is no exception. Having announced that he has to stay at the club for at least another year, indications suggest Messi will seek to leave again in 12 months, especially if things do not change structurally.
Understandably, Messi would be a dream signing for just about every club in the world, but in reality the list of teams that could have garnered his signature this year, or even next year, is quite small.
Here is a look at how the “Messiah” would fit into the set-up of these main contenders:
Pep Guardiola’s attacking brand of football came to prominence at Barcelona in a team that boasted the likes of Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Samuel Eto’o. While the quality of the players in the current City squad might not match up man to man, adding Messi to an attack that already features Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, and Sergio Aguero should result in attacking football of biblical proportions.
Imagine a regular dosage of Messi’s trademark runs with the ball at his feet cutting in from the right wing, or being on the receiving end of a defense-splitting pass from the laces of KDB, or setting up hiscountryman Kun with a chip over the top… the “noisy neighbours” would arguably have their most potent attack ever.
The fact that Guardiola and Messi won an impressive 14 trophies (inclusive of the Champions League in 2009 and 2011) in a four-year span together is a glimpse into what can be achieved if there were to be a reunion of player and manager. Familiar front office personnel like City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain (who occupied a similar role with Barcelona from 2003-2010) would certainly boostconfidence that such success can be replicated. This season would have been other-worldly, but if this is even possible next year, keep an eye on Guardiola’s contract getting extended.
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Qatar-backed PSG have never been shy in spending, dishing out over 400 million euros to secure the services of their two attacking stars Kylian Mbappe and Neymar. What’s another 100 million-plus for arguably the greatest footballer of all-time?
Of course, we don’t know what kind of fee Leo Mssi would command next year, if any, but a front three of Messi, Neymar and Mbappe would be the latest in notable triumvirates the Argentine has been a part of throughout his illustrious career, and would likely be the most feared in Europe. The support of his national teammates Angel di Maria and Mauro Icardi would likely help make the transition a smooth process.
Having established a stranglehold on Ligue 1 and other domestic competitions, PSG would be hoping that the addition of Messi could have helped them to go one better in the continental contest this season, after going down 1-0 to Bayern in the recently-held UCL final. Let’s see what happens in 12 months time.
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Coincidentally, the third club on this list also has one of Messi’s international compatriots – Lauturo Martinez – in its ranks. Having an Argentine on the books isn’t what qualifies Inter as a contender, however, but more so having deep-pocketed owners who have in the past expressed an interest in signing the left-footed wizard.
Last season they signalled their intent to turn around their recent sub-par campaigns with a host of big name signings including Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Christian Eriksen, and Diego Godin. It paid immediate dividends as they narrowly missed out on the Serie A title (finishing a point behind Juventus), while making it all the way to the finals of the Europa League, where they lost to Sevilla.
Throwing Messi into the mix would have undoubtedly helped them to threaten even further Juventus’ reign as the best team in the country. The fact that it would even help him rekindle a domestic rivalry with Cristiano Ronaldo would simply be the icing on the cake if he were able to lead the team to their first league title in over a decade. Antonie Conte has always shown an intent to refresh his lineup year after year with his clubs, a signing like Messi would match that ambition perfectly.
Is there any club or possible combinations we missed? Leave your comments below and let us know!
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