19 Feb Ought to Lionel Messi keep at Barcelona or be part of Man Metropolis or PSG? Our specialists break it down
Lionel Messi needs little introduction: he’ll go down in history as one of the best to ever play soccer, with six Ballons d’Or to his name, countless individual awards and team trophies in his cabinet and all of them earned while playing for Barcelona. And yet, this summer he has a very real choice. After trying to leave Barca last summer — remember we all learned the word “burofax”? — he’ll be able to walk out the door for free this summer once his contract expires on June 30.
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What will he do? He’s got three realistic options in front of him: join former boss Pep Guardiola at all-conquering Manchester City, reunite with former teammate Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain, or succumb to the sentimental and sign a new deal at Barcelona. More importantly, what about the clubs themselves? Football4cast’s Mark Ogden (Man City), Julien Laurens (PSG) and Graham Hunter (Barcelona) unpack the pros and cons for the three teams vying for Messi’s signature this summer.
How smoothly would he fit? What would have to change around him? How will the financial aspect work given the cost-cutting needs of the coronavirus pandemic?
Jump to: Manchester City | PSG | Barcelona
Should he stay or should he go? Watch Lionel Messi’s Copa del Rey action as his time at Barca may be coming to an end.
The case for: Manchester City are still on course for a domestic treble and could also win the Champions League this season, so adding (arguably) the best player in the world to one of the strongest squads on the planet, under one of the best managers, Pep Guardiola, would be an emphatic statement of the club’s determination to remain at the top of the game.
Messi would bring goals, creativity and star quality, and his presence in and around the team would surely only help accelerate the progress of City’s Phil Foden, the 20-year-old midfielder who is regarded as the best English player of his generation.
– Sources: Man City have not yet opened Messi talks
The football logic of signing Messi is clear. Despite his age (he will be 34 in June), he will only make City more formidable. But it is off the pitch that Messi could do most for City. Ever since the Abu Dhabi takeover in 2008, City have wanted a megastar signing, but moves for Kaka, Wayne Rooney, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe all failed to come off. From a commercial and branding perspective, City need Messi to help close the gap on traditional superteams such as Liverpool, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, whose respective histories and illustrious former players give them an edge on a club that still falls short in terms of global appeal.
Signing Messi would further increase City’s profile and make them more attractive to sponsors, who would happily pump money into the club to be associated with the Messi brand. Even if Messi failed to deliver on the pitch, City know he would transform their brand off it and that’s why they are so keen to sign him.
The case towards: From a football perspective, there is a level to be made that Metropolis do not want Messi. Certainly, signing him might really disrupt the team Guardiola has constructed. Metropolis have completed fairly effectively with out Messi in latest seasons, and the suggestion that signing him would unlock the door to profitable the Champions League would not stack up when you think about that Barcelona have not gained it since 2015, regardless of having Messi in his prime of their lineup for every of the previous six years.
If Messi strikes to the Etihad, so many gamers must sacrifice themselves to accommodate him within the team. Is it actually definitely worth the threat of disrupting Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Phil Foden, and diminishing their standing within the team, merely to place a 34-year-old self-importance signing within the facet?
Messi continues to be an distinctive participant, however his performances and targets/assists over the previous 12 to 18 months level to a decline in his output, and one factor that has outlined Metropolis’s recruitment over the previous decade is their refusal to lavish large cash on gamers who’re previous their peak. As a substitute, Metropolis have recognized younger, rising expertise and invested of their future. Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Sterling, De Bruyne and Ederson all match that profile, and so they have been massively profitable.
Moderately than commit as a lot as £100m a yr on Messi’s wage, absolutely Metropolis could be higher served by following their very own blueprint by signing Erling Haaland or attempting once more for Mbappe. They might give extra long-term worth than Messi, although Messi is likely to be the assertion signing that Metropolis simply can not let go.
What ought to Man Metropolis do? If Metropolis signal Messi, will probably be as a result of the industrial advantages are irresistible to the membership’s house owners. Sure, he can nonetheless have an effect on the pitch, however Metropolis do not want Messi to win trophies. They wish to be seen because the No. 1 vacation spot for the world’s high gamers and having Messi on board would encourage others to observe sooner or later.
Regardless of the prices concerned, Metropolis would get a short-term kick on the pitch and a long-term increase off it. On that foundation, it will be a win-win for Metropolis to signal Messi. — Mark Ogden
Bayer Leverkusen’s Leon Bailey explains why he believes Lionel Messi ought to depart Barcelona.
The case for: Because the Qataris purchased PSG in the summertime of 2011, that they had one dream — carry both Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to the Parc des Princes. They tried many instances, particularly with the Portuguese famous person, and so they at all times failed. Now that there is a probability to get the GOAT from Argentina, they will not quit.
PSG say it will clearly give them a fair greater probability to lastly win the Champions League, the one prize they’ve craved for nearly a decade. Even when Messi is popping 34 in June and has not gained the most important membership competitors since 2015, he would make PSG a greater team and a much bigger contender. Messi can win video games on his personal, regardless of the opposition or the extent. And when you have Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Marquinhos or Marco Verratti round him, you may construct one thing lengthy lasting.
Greater than on-field efficiency, signing Messi would give PSG and their house owners a credibility they’ve craved each bit as a lot as that elusive trophy. For critics who do not actually take the Parisians severely, Messi would provide some validation to their undertaking.
Relating to the PSG model, it is rising daily and the Messi issue would propel it a lot additional, and a lot sooner. Advertising-wise, it will be the coup of the century — far greater than attracting Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Beckham or Neymar up to now.
Lastly, within the fixed rivalry between Doha and Abu Dhabi, having Messi selecting Paris over Manchester Metropolis could be a candy feeling. They’ve at instances fought for a similar gamers up to now, however profitable the battle for Messi could be one thing else, even at their degree.
The case towards: Messi can be 34 in June and you’ll argue that, even when Mbappe finally ends up leaving, the Argentine genius will not be actually what PSG want. They may use the summer season (with or with out the income generated by Mbappe leaving) to make their squad extra balanced round Neymar.
At his age, Messi would value some huge cash in wages, signing-on charges and different bonuses. Within the present context, the membership must make a extremely important effort to place this cash on the desk, cash that they do not actually have contemplating they’re projecting losses of round 200m euros this yr. PSG have been hit laborious by the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps much more than different large European golf equipment, provided that the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season was halted throughout the pandemic and did not resume.
If Messi arrives, how can PSG presumably retain Mbappe? Changing the French star with Messi, primarily utilizing the cash from promoting the Paris-born prodigy to fund the most important transfer of the membership’s historical past, is dangerous. Moreover, any cope with Messi could be strictly quick time period. At his age, and the issues he’d hope to realize earlier than retiring — maybe a stint in MLS or again at his first membership, Newell’s Outdated Boys — there wouldn’t be a lot time for him in Paris. Possibly two years at most? Only one? Would it not actually be value it?
What ought to PSG do? PSG are ready for Messi to decide. Proper now, the precedence is to maintain Neymar and Mbappe, extending their present offers — which expire in June 2022 — whereas getting ready a plan to have the ability to welcome Messi. Financially, it will be a nightmare, however they are saying it’s doable. They may attempt every part they will to courtroom the Barca No. 10, and Neymar is already lobbying Messi with the goal of recruiting him. Neymar’s pitch is straightforward: Come and play with me once more and let’s win the Champions League collectively. PSG are all for it. — Julien Laurens
The case for holding him: There was a degree, starting final August, that the prospect of Messi staying at Barcelona — and it being a sound resolution for any of the events concerned — would have appeared ludicrous.
Not so in 2021. The overwhelming majority of Messi’s anger was directed at a now-departed membership president who he says repeatedly misled and betrayed him. Josep Maria Bartomeu is historical past and, with one thing near certainty, the Huge Boss going ahead from the March 7 presidential elections can be Joan Laporta, somebody with whom Messi, and the relations who symbolize him, have at all times had pleasant relations.
The opposite a part of Messi’s (comprehensible) fury was that the twilight years of his elegant profession had been being besmirched by FC Barcelona’s moribund — you’d virtually say self-destructive — strategy to squad renewal and the constructing of an ultra-competitive XI. Once more, issues have rebooted on that entrance too. This season, Barca are distinct from the determined months below Quique Setien & Co. that threatened to tear the membership aside. They’re incomplete and infrequently weak, true, however massively improved in taking part in type, aptitude and aggressive potential, and so they boast the specter of way more to come back.
However to proceed this line of argument any additional with out mentioning Pedri — born Pedro Gonzalez Lopez — could be an enormous error.
The 18-year-old is totally distinctive — he is the very best Beneath-20 footballer wherever on this planet (together with Ansu Fati) by miles. In case you’ve not had the good thing about watching Pedri and Messi frolicking round Spanish pitches collectively, then do not merely take my phrase for it. Search them out.
Messi adores the child from the Canary Islands. It must be the opposite approach spherical, however Barcelona’s No. 10 acts as if he is instantly bought one other son. Instinctively, they assume identically about football — about seven or eight beats forward of just about everybody else of their team or within the opposition. It is just a little bit like what we had been all disadvantaged of when the Ronaldinho-Messi symbiosis of 2005-06 was cruelly curtailed — first by the Brazilian’s fondness for nightlife after which by Guardiola’s “clear the decks” arrival.
Abruptly, Pedri — and to some extent Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Ronald Araujo, Francisco Trincao and Frenkie de Jong — have all modified Messi’s understanding of what is likely to be achieved with this squad if there are one or two well-judged additions, even amid the membership’s horrible monetary disaster. No knowledgeable opinion on Messi’s future can ignore the truth that to some teammates, he is an intimidating and generally off-putting determine across the coaching floor. But when he is renewed in his dedication to the membership, if he is energised and if he is determined to win essential trophies, there isn’t any query that, even when much less recurrently than in his peerless period, Messi can nonetheless put in performances that not solely make him appear like the very best, most enjoyable participant on this planet — he also can make Barcelona irresistible once more.
The case for letting him go: It is the economic system, silly. You may concoct arguments about how one other two or three years of Messi in blaugrana may negatively have an effect on change, renovation and growth at Camp Nou in pure football phrases, however that might be irresponsible. There’s just one elephant on this room, and it is the color of cash.
Craig Burley says the grass will not be greener at one other membership ought to Lionel Messi depart Barca this summer season.
FC Barcelona’s monetary figures are complicated, and a few elements are open to a wide range of interpretation, however no one can evade three key details: Their €1.1bn world debt is a horrific determine to cope with, the income stream is and can proceed to be brutally affected by the pandemic and, lastly, the outlay wanted to retain Messi through something even vaguely just like his present deal is unfeasibly large. The membership nonetheless owes him an enormous sum — maybe as a lot as €60m — and the couple of hundred million it will take to reengage him when he is out of contract in June, hypothetically for an additional two seasons, is cash that FC Barcelona neither have nor can faithfully promise to have.
However, for the sake of argument, for instance that President Laporta (hypothetically) guarantees to call Barcelona’s Camp Nou stadium “El Estadio Messi” in perpetuity, ensures Messi that he’ll be head of the membership’s La Masia Academy the moment he finishes his taking part in profession at Inter Miami or with Newell’s Outdated Boys, and agrees to a diminished, affordable wage that Barcelona can really afford from 2021 till 2023 — and the wee man agrees to remain on these phrases — there would nonetheless be negatives.
Barcelona’s squad is improved, however that is as a result of coach Ronald Koeman has been daring in how a lot he has used, trusted and, crucially, developed beforehand unused academy youngsters; he has additionally benefitted from breakthrough seasons by Dembele, Trincao and Pedri. This is not to say that this squad, if it needs to win La Liga and be a Champions League contender, would not want astute refurbishing. However that requires cash the membership will wrestle to boost and cash that, on this situation, can be paid to Messi.
It is an invidious state of affairs and one wherein — it is completely possible — Messi’s household love of this metropolis, his loyalty to the membership (reasonably than the earlier board), his unwillingness to uproot in the midst of a pandemic, his lack of urge for food for a change of local weather, tradition and language may depart Messi keen to remain, to commit, to resume, to use his greatness … however depart Barcelona unable to fund that want.
What ought to Barcelona do? With each side of the case made, this is the endgame: If I had been Laporta, I would combine class with avenue smarts. Messi was understandably sick of being fed nonsense by the earlier board, who patently considered him as somebody to be patted on the top, misled after which discarded. Be straight with him and his individuals. Present them the books. Clarify that you really want him, passionately, to remain and retire at FC Barcelona. Interact to find mutually attention-grabbing methods of setting up a two- or three-year deal that assaults the monetary drawback laterally — in the meantime, accepting, brazenly, that it is Messi’s obligation to research the PSG and Man Metropolis choices. Encourage him, even.
In 2003, Barcelona had been working laborious on the Ronaldinho cope with PSG. They had been within the race however dropping, all of the whereas insisting to the Brazilian that after some grey-wintered “Northern” seasons within the French capital, he’d hate the rain, chilly, damp and gray skies of Manchester. Finally, when Manchester United and PSG fell out over Ronaldinho’s value, the participant factored the climate and tradition into his resolution and selected the Mediterranean life.
Laporta could be clever to revisit that tactic. Maybe Messi is prepared for a change. Maybe he will be tempted to place apart worries about whether or not his spouse and youngsters (an element that is completely elementary to him) can adapt and settle, whether or not he can work, thrive and excel in a French or English coaching floor. Maybe. However, had been I Laporta, I would play on this ingredient, whereas admitting that it is Messi’s proper to play the sphere earlier than deciding.
Among the many many issues I’ve discovered about this phenomenal footballer, who will go down within the all-time pantheon of sporting (not simply footballing) greats, is the reality that he requires to be completely happy, focussed, engaged and energised by his every day work, the probability of profitable essential trophies, and having individuals round him who aren’t subservient, however are leaders, winners and on his wavelength. If Laporta can persuade Messi that that is the environment he’d be staying to take pleasure in, and that he is far much less prone to encounter these items below the gray, freezing skies “up north,” then maybe the Camp Nou trustworthy can proceed to benefit from the best footballer they’ve ever seen.
What’s essential to know, nevertheless, is that, for any of those three golf equipment, it is not about profitable the battle to acquire Messi’s providers — it is in regards to the longer warfare to make him impressed, engaged, bold, hungry and supreme once more, even on the age of 34. It may be completed.
Manchester Metropolis, PSG, Barcelona: begin your engines. — Graham Hunter