Manchester City are ready to pay £100m+ to reunite Lionel Messi with Pep Guardiola at the Etihad in the upcoming transfer window.
The sensational switch to bring the five-time winner of the FIFA Ballon d’ Or from the Nou Camp to Manchester, is finally set to happen, with City believed to have already agreed to meet the buy-out clause in the superstar striker’s contract.
Sources close to City claim the talismanic Argentine striker will not renew his Barcelona contract which expires in 2018, leaving the Catalan giants with no option other than to sell their prized asset this summer.
Messi – who turns 30 in June – has long been the subject of speculation linking him to City, but what was always viewed as ‘pie-in-the-sky’ wishful thinking, is set to become reality, as Guardiola embarks on a huge spending spree to transform City into genuine Champions League contenders.
News of City’s alleged Messi intentions has emerged from a source close to the City Football Group (the holding company for Manchester City, New York City, Melbourne City and Yokohama F. Marinos, under the Abu Dhabi United Group – ADUG) over in the United States.
The transfer fee would easily eclipse the £89m paid by Manchester United to Juventus for Paul Pogba. There are those who might query the wisdom of such a huge sum for a 30-year old – but this is Lionel Messi we’re talking about here.
Scorer of 337 goals in 373 La Liga appearances since his Barcelona debut in 2004, Messi has scored over 500 career goals for club and country, holding the records for the most in a La Liga season (50) and a club season in Europe (73), as well the record for the most assists in La Liga and the Copa America.
Not only is Messi unquestionably still one of the best footballers – if not the best in the world – his commercial value to any employer remains astronomical, with a huge global audience fully appreciative of the mesmerizing skills of the Argentine genius.
When questioned earlier this season about any possibility of Messi coming to City, Pep Guardiola laughed off the prospect saying ‘Messi belonged in Barcelona’ and would remain there for the duration of his career.
After 17 years at the Nou Camp it would undoubtedly be a huge emotional wrench to leave, and even with the rumours leaking from the CFG, it still seems implausible. But, as clichés go, ‘football is a funny old game’ and ‘nothing should surprise you in football’.
Tax fraud charges and court cases involving Messi and his father, led to both receiving suspended 21 month prison sentences last July, after months of anxiety and unwelcome media attention.
Coupled with stories of Barcelona needing to balance the books to meet the wage demands of Messi, Neymar and Suarez, fund new incoming transfers to replace the likes of the legendary Andres Iniesta, and finance the £500m redevelopment of the Nou Camp, it’s clear something will have to give in the fiscal sense.
With City freeing up millions of pounds on their wage bill this summer with the likely departures of Joe Hart, Eliaquim Mangala, Samir Nasri, Wilfried Bony, Fabian Delph, Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Yaya Toure, Fernando and doubts in some quarters against Vincent Kompany, Kelechi Iheanacho, Aleksander Kolarov, Willy Caballero and – God Forbid – Sergio Aguero, City will have massive scope for huge expenditure.
It’s beginning to look that the once unthinkable prospect of Lionel Messi playing his club football in anything but Barcelona’s colours, is now very much in the thoughts of both the Barca and Manchester City hierarchies.
Now, isn’t that some sky blue thinking on which to ponder?
By David Walker
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu