It would be the biggest signing in Premier League history, and if Manchester City pull it off, then Lionel Messi will be UK football’s star attraction for the next couple of years.
At the beginning of the week, here at SBOTOP, we reported on Ronald Koeman’s appointment as Barcelona head coach, and he was confident of keeping the club’s talisman who has played for the Blaugrana his entire career. But this is a story that has dominated the Premier League 2020 news headlines over the last couple of days and it doesn’t look like going away any time soon.
According to the early Premier League 2020 betting odds, Manchester City are already favourites to wrestle the league title from Liverpool, and if this stellar signing comes to fruition then those odds are sure to fall. While the queue to secure Messi’s services would stretch half way across Europe, only a few clubs would be able to afford the record-breaking Argentine and the megabucks Sky Blues are at the front of the line.
Reports are circulating in the English press that Messi may have already been on the phone to his former boss Pep Guardiola, as City have been working on the deal for a week, but a move could cost the Sky Blues an eye-watering half a billion pounds.
Pep won his two Champions League titles as a coach, with Messi the inspiration during his time at Barcelona and he will go all out to be reunited with, arguably, the best player on the planet. But the Premier League giants have work to do as Messi is embroiled in a bitter contract dispute with his La Liga employers.
His deal at the Camp Nou states he is able to leave the club at the end of the season, but that clause expired in June. Messi is arguing that the delay to the end of the La Liga season caused by the coronavirus outbreak meant he couldn’t notify the club of his decision until the season closed in August. Barca may try to void the clause but they already have an unhappy star on their hands and it may be time to say, ‘thanks and goodbye.’
Is Lampard in the hunt?
If Messi does make his move to the Premier League then Manchester City may face some competition from their top-four rivals, and Chelsea have been rumoured to be making enquiries in what would be an audacious bid.
The Blues have already made some stellar signings in this window, and are hoping to secure the services of Bayer Leverkusen captain Kai Havertz over the next few days, but would Messi’s enormous wages be a sticking point for the Chelsea?
Well, apparently not.
Russian owner Roman Abramovich seems to have renewed enthusiasm since former playing legend Frank Lampard took over as head coach, and he has spent freely on bringing striker Timo Werner and wide man Hakim Ziyech to the club. Yesterday Chelsea announced the £45m signing of Leicester City wing-back Ben Chilwell, with Brazilian star Thiago Silva also likely to head to Stamford Bridge over the next few days.
With over £200m committed this summer Abramovich has ultimate faith in his head coach and is going for it big style. Whether that would stretch to a bid for Messi remains to be seen.
Messi wants to win another Champions League and his relationship with City boss Guardiola could be the deciding factor. Indeed, Pep is desperate to land Europe’s top prize which has evaded him since he left the Camp Nou, failing at both FC Bayern and, so far, at Manchester City. The City coach will see Messi as the key to him ending his baron run in Europe, and the thought of the Argentine playmaker linking up with Kevin de Bruyne is simply mouth-watering.
The Belgian ace has made a phenomenal 66 assists in his six seasons at the Etihad and has recently been crowned Premier League player of the season. He too is desperate to get his hands on the Champions League, and City’s court victory over UEFA means he can do that with the Sky Blues.
At the end of a catastrophic season at the Camp Nou Messi was one of only a handful of players not put up for sale by the club, as the Catalonians start a major rebuild. But the matter may soon be out of their hands if their captain forces a move.
Can they rebuild without their best ever player, who still has at least two more seasons at the top of world football in him? Time will tell.
But Manchester City fans won’t care about that…they just want to get their man.
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