As news comes in that Lionel Messi might extend his stay in Barcelona, our very own Ankit Sharma takes a sarcastic take on why we didn't want him anyway!
If you'd walk into a bar full of football fans, and ask if they think Messi coming to Manchester City is a good idea, they'd break into a brawl over Ronaldo vs Messi GOAT debate (Just kidding, bars usually have a policy against allowing hormonal, teenaged keyboard warriors). No. They'd say that every Manchester City fan should welcome Messi with open arms and a 'Welcome To Manchester' billboard on the Mancunian Way crossing.
Well, I'm one fan who doesn't agree, because I see a lot of things wrong with that. Read on as I try and answer some of the most standard justifications thrown at naysayers like me regarding the 'Messi to City' rumor mill. Disclaimer: I will be doing so based on my extensive knowledge of football, having followed the game over a long period, beginning 6 weeks before the lockdown for the COVID pandemic.
1. "Hey, it may be a costly affair, but shirt sales and other things?"
Given the ridicule we as City fans have been subjected to over 'destroying football' with the club's purchasing power (which is an entirely different debate, given that we have one player in the 20 most expensive buys, I think the club is risking the backlash of the level of what Paris Saint Germain saw on the transfer of Neymar and Mbappe in one window.
The probable transfer cost may run into three-digit millions AND player(s). Messi is Messi and the social media and market deal frenzy that he brings 'may' cover a substantial portion of the cost, but the football world has a habit of forgetting the finer print after a few years. Letting go of a 19-year old promising Eric Garcia to bring the transfer price marginally down does not seem to do any justice, neither to our transfer policy nor to Eric Garcia's potential.
2. "Messi is Messi! How can you not welcome him to grace the right side of City's attack?"
How many wingers is too many wingers? We let go of Sane, yet are left with Mahrez and Sterling as two world-class wingers, Bernardo and Foden who can play there and with the signing of Ferran Torres, one could feel City is set for at least the next two years in those positions, which is vital for every plan that Pep chalks out for a game (except UCL knock-out rounds **sobbing sounds**). With Messi coming and if he prefers his favorite position, we may very well be looking at the strongest right-wing since the Indian parliament election results of 2019. But is that really needed?
3. "Shut up you football Noob! He'll play false 9. We need a strong option upfront anyway."
Aguero has one year left in his contract and is rumored to be interested in signing for another year. That gives us two more years of arguably the most lethal striker Premier League has seen. That is precisely equal to the number of years we can expect Messi to be at his best. That is also what makes this deal looks like just augmenting on the potential problems that we may face two years down the line. We'd need to replace Aguero AND Messi upfront. Good luck doing that, without trying to inject Gabriel Jesus with Captain America's super serum.
4. "But he may come for free!! Imagine God signing for us, for free!"
Then I suggest we should take our budget for him and try to sign Cristiano Ronaldo as well, because the only thing better than a 33-years old may-very-well-be-past-his-best, is him pairing up with a 35-years old may-very-well-be-past-his-best.
5. "Shut up, you pessimistic snob! The prospect of Pep and Messi coming back together! CL guaranteed!"
I, for one, have never fancied our manager to field a team revolving around one player. Also, who can guarantee that Pep won't put Ederson with 4 CBs, two fullbacks and 2 CDMs with KdB and Messi upfront in CL knock out game against Monaco or Lyon or **gulp** Shakhtar?
6. "Hypocrite! Once he comes, you might be the first one to buy that Jersey with Messi's name at the back."
Probably yes. Till then, I wish for the City board to strengthen our defense, the main reason we've gone through the last season with such mediocre show and, at times, abysmal results. It is about priorities at the end of the day, and my priorities are another strong center-back, a left-back, and a young, promising striker who can either challenge Jesus as a replacement for Aguero or prove a match-winner like Dzeko, for years to come. Messi, for all his qualities pertaining to the fact that he is Messi, doesn't solve our core problems.
Well, not if he doesn't play as our first choice left-back, that is. Wait. That can't be what Pep is thinking, right?
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