Lionel Messi is the best player I’ve ever seen. I would have loved the opportunity to play against him. Every player in the Premier League must feel the same after the news broke that he wants to leave Barcelona.
As much as I would love to see him in the Premier League, there is a romantic part of me that wonders if a better ending to his career would be to stay at Barca.
That’s the club he loves. And when you leave the club that’s in your heart, you usually do it for the wrong reasons. In Messi’s case that appears more about politics than football.
I had seven seasons at the club I loved, Liverpool, and was devastated to leave when Rafa Benitez told me he didn’t see me as part of his plans.
Manchester City look the obvious choice if Messi were to come here. He has his connection with Pep Guardiola and it is really only City, alongside Manchester United, who could possibly afford him.
This may sound ridiculous but is Messi really what City need? Of course he would improve them – he’s Messi – but they do have other areas more in need of strengthening. They would probably have to forgo those to do the Messi deal. But would the supporters, or the club, really care? Opportunities to sign a player like Messi do not come around very often and may be a worthwhile sacrifice.
Think about the influence he would have on younger players. What an experience it would be for someone like Phil Foden, learning from the greatest of our generation every day. Foden probably thought his time had finally come now the genius of David Silva has left, only for him to find Messi may be joining!
Even Raheem Sterling’s game would get better for having Messi around.
He’d be the first name on the team sheet but where would he play? Pep usually plays a 4-3-3 so you’d imagine he would start on the right of the front three, cutting on to his left.
He could play down the middle, free to roam where he wants or as one of the three behind, where Silva played.
City’s movement is so fluid and Messi so good that it does not really matter. I imagine Guardiola can see the rotations in his head when he sleeps!
And, yes, Messi could still do it on a cold Tuesday night at West Brom. I had tipped Liverpool to retain their Premier League title because they have nothing to fix. Man City certainly do. But if they sign Messi, City become favourites for the title. That’s how big his impact would be.