Sign him if you can. It’s that simple.
An opportunity like this has never arisen before and it never will again. Manchester United and Manchester City should both do all they can to bring Lionel Messi to Manchester.
Not much more needs to be said really, but 35 words don’t quite meet the SEO threshold – so why not was lyrical about Lionel some more?
21 years he has been at Barcelona. Over two decades. A little kid who wowed crowds in Rosario with his ball juggling skills as Diego Maradona returned travelled across the world and became the best footballer in the world.
Better than even El Diego himself.
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He made his competitive debut on 16 October, 2004, 17-years ago. Since then he has been ever-present in our lives. Some football fans now, who will have no doubt had their first illegal drink and will soon be able to do so by the letter of the law, have known nothing but Messi at Barcelona.
Have known nothing but the diminutive Argentine making himself larger than life by the things he can do on the pitch. For 17-years we have been able to tune into any Barcelona match with it being almost guaranteed that you would see at least one piece of magic.
And if it was only one dazzling piece of skill leaving a knot of bodies in his wake. If it was only one ridiculous goal elegantly guided into the top corner. If it was only one pass that no one saw coming to carve an opening. If it was only one absurd touch to send everyone the wrong way while he waltzed through and rolled the ball home. Well, you’d feel quite short-changed, because more often than not there would be countless moments of genius to savour.
672 goals. 305 assists. In just 778 games. Stats that have changed the standard to which we judge every other player, which will take some adjusting when he finally calls it a day. Not to mention all the moments that can’t be quantified.
But now it’s all over.
Years of financial mismanagement by what should be the world’s biggest club shouldn’t be the way for him to go. It should have been when he brought the curtain down on his career, having never played for another team.
Crying into a handkerchief in a stuffy press conference room shouldn’t have been his goodbye. It should have been at a Camp Nou fit for bursting, fans bowing down with enough tears streaming down their faces to flood La Rambla, all played to the chorus of ‘Messi, Messi, Messi.’
Making sure the Bernabeu knows his name
(Image: OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)
But sadly, even the greatest ever can’t get the fairy tale all the time.
For the first time in 21-years Messi is not a Barcelona player, the No.10 is vacant, and all signs point towards a move to Paris Saint-Germain.
It does seem like the boring move – at least from where we sit. Admittedly we’re biased.
Still, PSG are the club with the most money building a Harlem Globe Trotters side of greats to finally claim the Champions League trophy. It doesn’t quite have that romantic feeling, especially with the dearth of competition in Ligue 1 and the lack of eyes on the division. Though, what football fan can deny that a front-three of Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe gets their hearts racing?
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Messi played some of his best football alongside Neymar and his sale to PSG in the first place was the first chip in the relationship between himself and the club. He always wanted to play with him again and now he may well get his wish. Add Mbappe into the mix, the player who looks primed to take Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s crowns, and you have an attack normally only seen in video games.
But, even still, City and United should do everything they can to prevent it from happening.
Both clubs are looking to sign a new striker, a guaranteed source of goals and no one is more of a guarantee than Messi.
City is the obvious choice. Pep Guardiola is the man who helped harness Messi’s talents and turned him into the never-seen-before phenomenon he is today. Speaking as a football fan: seeing them reunite, at a club without drama which is perfectly suited to how Messi plays, would just be lovely.
But it would be equally great to see him at United, the club he twice defeated in Champions League finals. A club steeped in history. A club where, of course, his greatest rival made his name. United are building a young, exciting team brimming with talent and Messi would bring the best out of all of them.
But romantic notions aside, the reason both clubs should move heaven and earth to sign him is simple: they will win the Premier League with him.
No other team in England has a player like Messi, you put him into any of the big sides and they will win the division. He may be 34 but he isn’t slowing down much. Just this summer he finally guided Argentina to an international trophy and he still managed to score a measly 38 goals last season, despite playing in a subpar Barca side. If we want to get even more cynical about it, the marketing value he will bring will likely offset his hefty wage packet.
Messi’s time at Barcelona has ended in unfathomable heartbreak but his career doesn’t have to, just as long as we still get to see that magic whenever we tune in. If that’s in Manchester, then even better.