World football has been marinating to the idea of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona this summer since the start of the week when he officially told the club that he wanted to move on this summer.
Messi appears to be on the edge of his patience with Barcelona and their board and has finally decided to sever ties. Whether he actually leaves the club this summer will depend not only on Barcelona’s ability to pacify their best ever player but also on Spanish civil law.
But that is something we can think about later in the summer. For the moment, he wants to leave and Manchester City appear to be the only club with any real chance of signing him.
Manchester City are said to have crunched the numbers and appear to believe that they can afford Lionel Messi’s €1m per week pay packet.
How they can manage it without breaking FFP rules? Well, we don’t think they care about FFP anymore after embarrassing UEFA in the Court of Arbitration for Sports earlier in the year.
For the moment, there is a tantalising prospect of watching Lionel Messi in the Premier League next season. Can he do it on a cold and wet English night? We may well have an answer to this age hold question next season.
Lionel Messi at Manchester City will change the landscape of the Premier League
Manchester City have been chasing Lionel Messi for close to a decade. A move was believed to be on the cards in 2015 before he decided to stay at Barcelona.
The Premier League giants believe that this could be the summer that their dream could become a reality. He appears genuinely disillusioned at Barcelona and is ready to return to the arms of Pep Guardiola at the Etihad.
In a Manchester City dressing room brimming with talents such as Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero, Messi will still be the biggest name and the de-facto captain. Once the Argentine arrives, every tactic will be drawn to get the best out of him even if he is 33 and possibly on the final legs of his career.
The arrival of Lionel Messi will also be a statement from Manchester City. Despite all their success, players from outside England still refer to Manchester United as Manchester. The Red Devils are still the bigger club in the Lancashire city, despite the contrasting fortunes of the two clubs in the last seven years.
Lionel Messi joining will change that as he will bring his legion of fans across the world to the blue side of Manchester. United will no longer be ‘Manchester’ outside England.
Chance of a Premier League title and another Champions League triumph
Jurgen Klopp said on Friday that he doesn’t believe he will see Lionel Messi in the Premier League next season. Whether he said it out of a genuine belief or just hope is something we cannot answer.
But yes, champions Liverpool will be nervous if the best player in the world parks his car at the Etihad next season.
Liverpool won the title with an 18-point lead over Manchester City but Messi is good enough to wipe off the gap. Pep Guardiola’s side will become instant favourites to win the Premier League next season despite Liverpool’s feats in the previous campaign.
If one thinks only Messi cannot lead Manchester City back to Premier League glory, just take a look at the last couple of La Ligas Barcelona won.
But Manchester City have bigger fishes to fry if they can pull off the signing of Lionel Messi. They are expected to be in the race for the league next season regardless of the Argentine but it is the Champions League that Guardiola and Manchester City crave for.
Pep Guardiola has not won the Champions League since leaving Barcelona in 2011. In theory, he has not won Europe’s biggest club trophy without Messi.
He failed to win it at Bayern Munich, the biggest club in Germany and has seen his Manchester City side get knocked out in the quarter-finals four years in a row despite spending vast sums on players.
Lionel Messi also wants to win the Champions League as he has not won the trophy since 2015. Barcelona’s 8-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich is said to have been the catalyst in his decision to try and leave the club.
Manchester City will be the favourites to win the trophy with Messi in their team regardless of how suspect they remain at the back. It is the Holy Grail for all of them – the club, the manager and the player.
But will it happen?
Lionel Messi has told Barcelona that he wants to leave but many are not convinced that he is actually agitating for a move. The 33-year-old is not happy with the way the club have functioned under president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
The formal elections for Barcelona’s next president is next year but Messi is believed to be trying to oust the club supremo early. He is already a very unpopular president because of the way the club have been run in the last few years. But the club’s best player wanting to leave has put him under even more pressure.
Publicly, Bartomeu has claimed that he won’t resign but privately he is said to be ready to walk away if Messi declares that he will stay at Barcelona. The Argentine remains the most influential figure at the club and the Barcelona president is aware that he is unlikely to win in a battle with the player.
There are also suggestions Lionel Messi is genuinely disillusioned and doesn’t believe he can win the big trophies at Barcelona as the club prepare for a period of rebuild. But his attempt to leave the club on a free transfer is expected to be a massive problem.
Barcelona insist that Messi’s communication should have arrived before June 10 if he wanted to leave on a free transfer. The player’s camp are arguing that with the season getting extended until August, the date should have been revised as well.
The Catalan giants have made it clear that they do not want to sell him and the only way he leaves this summer is if a club pay his €700m buyout clause.
No club will pay that amount of money, even for Lionel Messi. If the player goes on and tries to terminate the contract unilaterally, the situation will go to the courts and Spanish law is on the side of Barcelona.
Spain’s courts take the wording of contracts very seriously and that will go against Lionel Messi’s interest. He could be forced to pay the €700m if he tries to force his way through.
If Barcelona agree to negotiate a transfer fee it could become a bit easier but for the moment they do not appear to be ready for any negotiations and one cannot blame them.
Lionel Messi’s departure will be a PR disaster and even the most clueless of Barcelona official knows that their team are worse without the Argentine magician.