Unless you’ve recently been filling your days with experiences and activities to embrace your post-lockdown freedom, Lionel Messi – Mr Barcelona himself – has announced his intention to leave the club he has been at for nearly two decades.
That is huge news, picking the ears of numerous clubs around the world ready and waiting to pry arguably the world’s best footballer into their clutches. Even Burnley’s Sean Dyche hasn’t ruled out trying his luck…
However, it’s not all plain sailing for poor Lionel as – due to a complicated cause in his contract and Barcelona’s reluctance to let him go – clubs may need to pay his £623 million release clause to guarantee his services for the upcoming season.
That is a huge amount of money for a 33-year-old who, while still may be an incredible addition to any team, is a far cry from the player he was a few seasons ago.
However, whether this is simply because the team surrounding him isn’t as good as it once was or because his body isn’t as up to the physical demands of football anymore, that’s up for debate. But one thing that is undeniable is just how beneficial Messi leaving could be to whichever team he then decides to join.
The Guardiola Effect
Messi has often been linked with Manchester City over the years, largely thanks to his relationship with current City manager Pep Guardiola in which he had a highly prosperous time working under at Barcelona.
However, the link between the club and player has previously been pure speculation, often believed to simply be a clever tactic by Messi and his team to sway Barcelona into giving him an improved contract.
This time around though, the link between Manchester City and Messi seems a lot more realistic and – in essence – if they were both able to get past the £623 million stumbling block, it’s pretty likely we’d see him lining up alongside his Argentinian teammate Sergio Aguero before too long.
A League Of His Own
While gaining a global superstar will obviously be hugely beneficial to Manchester City themselves, we’re here to argue that it would benefit the rest of the league as well. How you ask?
Well, thanks to Messi’s global reputation, he will bring a lot more revenue to the Premier League in terms of sponsorship deals and fans wanting to see him in action. This, in turn, could lead to increased numbers of ticket sales for all Premier League clubs and a lot more people signing up to television services to watch him play week in, week out.
What’s more, world-class players attract other world-class players so his transfer could be the starting gun for several other Premier League transfers.
After all, Messi’s enviable reputation as the world’s best player has put him on a pedestal for many other players coming through, meaning other players may be more attracted to join Premier League teams to either line up with him or try their luck against him. And, with his career coming towards its end, if a player wants to have the joy of playing against or training with Messi, it’s pretty much now or never.
The Champion of Champions
In terms of joining Manchester City specifically, it looks like the ideal match on paper.
Messi wants to be at a successful team and to get another Champions League under his belt. Meanwhile, Manchester City desperately wants to improve their form in Europe to cement themselves as one of the best teams ever.
Messi could give City and Guardiola that extra edge they need, while City could provide Messi with a platform to play alongside some of the world’s best players – a fresh start away from the current ongoing chaos and uncertainty at Barcelona.
On paper, it’s a match made in heaven and – if all went to plan – could help ensure an English club successfully conquers Europe.
After all, while Premier League fans are nothing but loyal to their own teams, there is always a patriotist edge to the Champions League. Put simply, most fans would rather a British team won it over a club from a different league, simply in terms of European bragging rights.
Adding Messi to the Premier League could make that difference – whether it be through winning it with Manchester City himself or knocking out some of the bigger European teams along the way.
While it may be a little while yet before we know for sure whether Messi will actually come to Premier League, one thing is for certain – if he does, his arrival will only be seen as a good thing. Although, maybe not to some of the defenders he’ll come up against…