It seems almost ridiculous to imagine writing that the greatest player in the history of football joining your closest challengers for the league next season is the best thing that could happen to your club yet in this particular instance it certainly is the case

Manchester City have been deemed as the ‘top candidate‘ to land six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi from Barcelona amid the Argentine’s determination to force an exit away from the Camp Nou.

BBC Sport report that Messi has handed in a transfer request and is seeking to have his contract cancelled.

Messi, 33, is perhaps the greatest footballer we have ever seen and the prospect of him coming to the Premier League is not just an exciting one but something that can work in Liverpool’s favour next season.

FC Barcelona v RCD Espanyol - Liga BBVA

BARCELONA, SPAIN – MAY 05: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona (R) hugs his Head coach Josep Guardiola of FC Barcelona after scoring his team’s third goal during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on May 5, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain. This is the last match as head coach of FC Barcelona for Josep Guardiola at the Camp Nou Stadium. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The underdog status

Despite an 18-point chasm between the two teams last season, within seconds of Messi’s reported arrival at the Etihad Stadium, all of the media attention will be on Pep Guardiola’s team to cruise to the title next season.

Liverpool in effect will go straight back under the radar into a position they utilised to their advantage last season.

City with Messi will be lauded and paraded as overwhelming favourites despite Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool’s procession to a 19th league title last season.

Having the best player in the history of the game also opposes some immediate complications.

For one, it will completely derail the club’s wage structure given that Messi’s current contract sees him take home £1 million per week at Barcelona, The Times reported.

To match this would require a quite stupendous outlay even for Manchester City.

Kevin de Bruyne is currently City’s top earner with a £350,000-a-week pay packet – according to Spotrac – yet Messi’s wages would see him take home almost three times that amount.

MADRID, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 23: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona during the La Liga Santander match between Leganes v FC Barcelona at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque on November 23, 2019 in Madrid Spain (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Huge financial risks

It’s hard to imagine this will sit well with the City players given the club are prepared to completely overhaul their financial structure to bring a 33-year-old player to the club.

 

Messi is not any ageing star, of course. Even this season he scored 31 goals and provided 26 assists. Most importantly, however, he is not a guaranteed success as an overwhelmed Barcelona recently discovered.

The Argentina captain’s arrival will also restrict transfer activity next season for City and if this so scripted ‘Last Dance’ doesn’t go to plan then Guardiola will be left without a plan b.

Where a move could backfire would be if Messi stayed at the Etihad for 1-2 years, did not win anything, and the club’s resources were left in ruins.

Not only does it work to Liverpool’s advantage from a financial sense but it will also paper over the reality that a lack of attacking supremacy wasn’t the determining factor behind City surrendering their title to Liverpool last season.

Signing Messi will not solve City’s defensive inefficiencies as Barcelona will reassure following their 8-2 demolition job at the hands of Bayern Munich last month.

City were miles off the pace last season because of their shortcomings at the back and it proved costly both domestically as well as in Europe. Even the addition of the greatest player ever to walk this earth will not solve them from this reality.

Messi may yet stay if the Barcelona board resign. Fans have been outside the Camp Nou on a daily basis pleading for Messi to stay and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign.

Indeed, if Man City were to sign Messi it would of course instantly make them a better team.

But, as Juventus have found out with Cristiano Ronaldo and PSG with Neymar, signing greatness is only one step of the journey and does not guarantee success.

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