Are Manchester City likely to sign Lionel Messi?
Manchester City may have missed out on signing Lionel Messi over the summer, but the Barcelona star’s future remains uncertain.
With his contract scheduled to expire at the end of the season, the Argentine will be free to talk to other clubs in January.
But just how likely is it that City follow up on their interest? Or that Messi seeks a new challenge?
We weigh up the pros and cons of a deal below…
Messi has made no secret of the fact that he isn’t happy with Barcelona’s direction in recent seasons.
The Catalan club haven’t won the Champions League since 2015, surrendered La Liga to Real Madrid last season, and have made a worrying start to the new campaign under Ronald Koeman.
In that context, an offer to link up with Pep Guardiola once again might prove too good to turn down.
And any discussions with City over wages are likely to be eased by the prospect of a paycut resulting from Barca’s financial turmoil should he stay put.
The opportunity to silence those who have questioned whether Messi would be able to cut it in the Premier League would also surely appeal.
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Josep Maria Bartomeu’s recent resignation was seen as a major political victory for Messi, who publicly criticised the departing Barca president after failing to secure a summer departure.
Having won that particular battle, it may not go down well with the fans if a player who claims to have their best interests at heart responds by leaving at the first available opportunity.
Messi’s legacy isn’t at risk, per se, but it would certainly be a sour ending to a near-20-year association.
City must themselves weigh up the risks attached to signing a 33-year-old who is showing signs of decline – even if it is from heights that few, if any, have previously reached.
Guardiola has lost Vincent Kompany and David Silva in the last two summers, while Sergio Aguero’s advancing years and repeated injury problems suggest he might not be a viable option for too long, either.
City must protect their future by finding successors to those gigantic figures; signing Messi looks much like a vanity project in comparison.