Wayne Rooney believes Thiago Alcantara’s arrival at Liverpool would be a superior signing to Manchester City bringing in Lionel Messi and has backed the Reds to retain the Premier League title if they sign the Bayern Munich midfielder.
City are among the favourites to sign Argentina star Messi after he sensationally informed Barcelona earlier this week via fax that he would like to leave the club after nearly 20 years at the club.
But Thiago has long been linked with Liverpool and Rooney said on talkSPORT: ‘I think it is City or Liverpool [for the title]. Man United have a lot of potential in the players they have got but I still think they are a year away. Chelsea with the new signings will possibly need a year to get everyone on the same songsheet.
‘So I do think it is between City and Liverpool. And if Liverpool get Thiago from Bayern Munich, I think it is done [the title].
‘That is a better signing than Messi going to Man City.’
Messi is planning to trigger a clause in his contract at the Nou Camp that would allow him to walk away for free this summer, with the suggestion being that he believes the clause is still valid because the season ended in August and not May because of the coronavirus pandemic.
On the other hand, Barcelona argue the deadline for him to leave on a free passed in June and will contest the player’s argument that the deadline changed when the season was rearranged after lockdown.
Sportsmail understands that should Messi’s contract stand-off at the Catalan giants is resolved, he will play be reunited with Pep Guardiola and help City to try and unseat Liverpool as champions and consequently reclaim their crown.
However, Manchester United and England record goalscorer Rooney believes Jurgen Klopp’s men signing Spain international Thiago would trump Messi’s arrival in England and see them retain the title instead.
The Reds have been linked with a strong interest in the 29-year-old Champions League winner, with reports claiming personal terms have been agreed and all that now stands between the transfer is the two clubs agreeing a fee.
Rooney however believes that Messi, 33, is a shoe-in for a seventh Ballon d’Or if he comes to the Premier League this summer, and maintains the Argentine is on a different level to everyone else.
That includes Rooney’s former United team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo – with whom he spent five seasons playing alongside, winning three Premier League titles, one Champions League, one FA Cup and two League Cups.
‘I know Messi getting older but he’s a player who no one has seen before,’ Rooney continued.
‘Messi has everything – he can create goals, score goals, dictate the game and is the best player of all time.
‘If he can come to the Premier League, whatever team it is and I believe it’s only Manchester United and Manchester City that can sign him… well, I’d take Messi at United.
‘He’s one of the only players I’ve sat there and watched and just been in awe of.
‘Don’t get me wrong, I played with Cristiano and the two of them have set a standard I don’t think we’ll ever see again. But, for me, Messi is just different level.’