Lionel Messi’s 20-year love affair with Barcelona is over and now every club in the world is showing some leg in order to land the planet’s best player.
Tuesday night’s news that he told the club he has been with since the age of 13 that he is finished en klaar kicked off a frenzy and everyone wants to know where he will continue his career.
It’s an ugly breakup. Messi made his name there, breaking their goalscoring records, bringing them four Champions League titles and winning himself a record six Ballon d’Ors.
But let's be honest, they have taken him for granted and he hasn’t had decent team to back up his talent since their last Champions League success in 2015, leaving him to carry the club.
Back then, he was 28 and hitting his peak. Now at 33, the years between seem wasted.
With the team falling apart around him, Messi is finally gatvol and taking his magical boots elsewhere.
Barcelona were starting to look like Argentina, where their talisman is their best player - in every position.
Earlier this year, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was asked if Sergio Aguero was the best striker he had coached after the hitman had scored his 12th Premier League hattrick.
His answer was this: “Messi is the best. Messi is nine, ten, eleven, seven, six, five, four.”
And that’s the player who has become available now.
Investing in Messi will get you all the shirt sales you can dream of. Hell, you will even get new fans if Messi joins your team.
If you have corporate suites in your stadium, he’ll make sure they are sold out. He packed out the Nou Camp, a 98 000-seater arena, every match.
But like Pep said, he brings so much more than that.
So let’s have a little fun and imagine just how he can fit into the teams that have been linked with him.
Alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, Messi would be in his element in this front three.
Already familiar with former Barca teammate Neymar, Mbappe would probably be the player who benefits more from having Messi around.
Service to the French striker wouldn’t be a problem, with Messi able to release him behind defences. And if the little master doesn’t keep scoring at the rate he usually does, Mbappe could soon become a real Golden Shoe contender.
During PSG’s recent run to the Champions League final, they looked short of creativity in the midfield and Messi could easily solve that issue in a system with two holding players behind him.
Against better quality opponents in European competition, Neymar, Angel di Maria and even Mbappe could join Messi in an advanced attacking trio behind Mauro Icardi, who coach Thomas Tuchel couldn’t bring on in the final because of a lack of service.
So yes, Messi would improve them.
This one is tricky, because I just wouldn’t have imagined Messi working with a coach as rigid as Antonio Conte.
But given how effective Eden Hazard and Willian were for him during their Premier League title-winning season at Chelsea, maybe it could work.
Conte still loves his high wingbacks, which means Messi would be able to release them with his diagonal passes.
Also with the wingbacks carrying the ball up in wide areas, Messi would able to use the spaces created closer to goal.
Tucked in behind players like Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, he could serve up goals on a platter for them. I’m sure he’d enjoy playing give and gos with Lukaku.
Conte would also have the option of playing Messi in a front three with Martinez and Alexis Sanchez.
I don’t know about you, but that trio sounds [email protected] scary to me. It might not be a long-term partnership, but if it last for one season - that’s good enough to bag a Champions League.
With Messi and Alexis getting a second chance to work together, perhaps in their old age, they will team up better.
Mense have always seen them as rivals - one or the other. But imagine Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo together in a team.
How can 11 Ballon d’Ors and more than a 1300 goals combined not guarantee success?
Just how would this duo work though?
We all know Messi would look for Ronaldo if he were in the better position to score.
But would Ronaldo just shoot if he saw Messi open?
We’ll have to wait and see?
Ronaldo would score a vrag goals with Messi playing him in, there is absolutely no doubt of that.
But will fan boys give Messi credit for making Ronaldo better?
You know what? This causes more problems than I thought it would. And for first time coach Andrea Pirlo, the headache wouldn’t be worth it.
Messi’s Goldilocks club - just right. A reunion with former mentor Pep Guardiola will fit him like a slipper.
Everything is geared to him at this club.
Messi could play anywhere in this team’s front five. From Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus, Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden and even Kevin de Bruyne - Messi is better.
He can replace each of them and every one of them and in the long run, they will probably be the better for it.
But luckily for them, David Silva needs replacing.
Messi can play the tight spaces just like City’s little magician used to.
He was their main creator of chances. And with him teeing up international teammate Aguero, it will be awesome for Pep.
Sterling’s finishing will probably improve. Sure, missing from right under the crossbar in a Champions League quarterfinal hurts, but it slaps different if it’s Messi playing you in.
Sterling will be a better player alongside Messi and he won’t miss Silva at all.
Plus De Bruyne can put less pressure on himself too - the man looked a wreck against Lyon.
Liverpool fans won't want to see Messi at City, that will be their worst nightmare.