IF Lionel Messi does really leave Barcelona before the transfer window shuts in October, there’s one place he will not be heading, and that’s to Manchester United.
Minutes after news filtered through that he intends to leave the Camp Nou this summer, all of the “top clubs” were linked with the best player in the world.
The problem for United, is that they aren’t one of the “top clubs” in the transfer market any longer.
Even if they were, Messi would look at what’s on offer at Old Trafford and politely decline.
It’s a harsh reality for United supporters and one they’ve had to get used to over many years.
Under Sir Alex Ferguson and pre-Glazer ownership, United would have been at the front of the queue.
The Red Devils would have been able to offer him not only a great off-field package, but the opportunity to play with some of the best players in the world.
But, in 2020, and after having money drained out of the club for well over a decade, financially, United wouldn’t be able to come up with a package to match what he currently earns.
And on top of that, what’s on offer from a footballing point of view, also falls short.
United haven’t signed a single player yet, but their loyal supporters have had to watch on as Chelsea, Manchester City and even Leeds United have splashed the cash.
The Jadon Sancho deal looks increasingly like one that will not happen, and all the noises from the club suggest that a “big” signing this summer is unlikely.
It’s frustrating and a great shame because there were real shoots of encouragement from United last campaign.
A third place Premier League finish and three semi-finals is a sign of progress, but it’s starting to feel like Jose Mourinho’s final summer at the club, where poor transfer activity ultimately meant United took two steps backwards after one forward.
The club desperately needs to kick-on but it can only do that by signing proven talent.
Messi isn’t an option but the crisis hasn’t prevented Chelsea flexing their muscles and bringing a variety of players through the door.
In May, the club told me that this summer would be different, and because of the coronavirus, teams wouldn’t be spending like they have done in previous years.
I’m not sure that is necessarily proving to be the case.
The best way to remain competitive and service the debt the club has, is to buy players that improve the team and brand.
By standing still, United risk falling behind again.
Messi is nothing more than a dream, but the likes of Sancho, Jack Grealish and Dayot Upamecano aren’t.