Messi to Man City: The dangers of signing a superstar

Lionel Messi’s Barcelona contract expired this summer, meaning he has now become one of the most sought-after free agents in the history of the game.

Messi has spent his entire career at Barcelona, scoring an unprecedented 672 goals in 778 games for the club since making his first-team debut all the way back in 2003. But this summer saw the expiry of his contract, meaning he is technically a free agent currently and free to speak to any team he wants.

Manchester City and PSG have been linked, with their unlimited funds believed to put them among the only clubs that can afford his astronomical wages.

So should Blues fans be wary of a move that might provide more questions than answers or would Messi to Manchester City be the transfer sensation of the century?

Born in Rosario, Argentina, Messi moved to Barcelona’s La Masia academy at the age of 13 and since then he’s become one of the game’s greatest ever players, scoring over 700 goals in just under two decades at Camp Nou.

Between 2009/10 and 2018/19, he scored more than 40 goals each campaign, which means that over a ten season span, he scored an astonishing 523 goals, at an average of over 50 a season.

In 2012, he fired in an incredible 91 goals for club and country, doing it in just 69 matches – that’s roughly a goal every 68 minutes, with his 444 league goals also makes the six-time Ballon d‘Or winner the Spanish top flight’s all-time leading goalscorer.

That’s a figure that puts him some way ahead of Ronaldo in second on 311 and Telmo Zarra third with 251 while he also holds the record as La Liga’s top assist provider ever with 183 – what a mouth-watering prospect considering City’s love for attacking football.

However, history tells us that there’s no such thing as a dead cert with several high profile examples to prove it.

FERNANDO TORRES

Take Fernando Torres for example, when he signed for Chelsea in a British record deal on transfer deadline day in January 2011, no one could possibly have imagined the extent of his demise.

The Spaniard scored goals for fun at Anfield, quickly becoming one of the most potent marksmen in the Premier League finding the net an astonishing 82 times in 141 games over just four seasons – including 33 goals in 46 games in his first season with the Reds.

In stark contrast the £40-million man scored just 45 times in 172 appearances for Chelsea, with a total of eight Premier League goals being his best return in the 2012/13 campaign.

In the three full seasons that Fernado Torres was at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea finished sixth, third and third again, but following his return to Spain to join Atletico Madrid, Chelsea won the Premier League that year and then again two seasons later.

To say Manchester United struggled in the years following Alex Ferguson’s departure would be something of an understatement as a number of high-profile managers arrived at Old Trafford amid much anticipation only to leave with the club seemingly no better off than they were before.

Angel Di Maria

Though it’s not just gaffers who have come and gone at the 20-time English champions with plenty of top name signings have also brought with them high hopes and expectations only to depart the shadow of their former selves.

Angel Di Maria, who shone at Real Madrid and his final game for them was a Man-of-the-Match display in the Champions League final against Atletico, but he couldn’t adjust to life at Old Trafford having been signed by Louis Van Gaal for a then record fee of £60 million.

The 32-year-old lasted just one season at United, scoring three goals in 27 games, before he was written off as yet another costly transfer mistake in the post Ferguson era.

Add the likes of Radamel Falcao, Memphis Depay, Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku and you have a pretty comprehensive list of expensive flops who have failed to deliver – just a few sorry examples of the dangers when it comes to a team trying to win the title based on a pre-season super-signing.

Of course, to compare the likes of Fernando Torres and Angel Di Maria to quite possibly the greatest player there has ever been is as unfair as it is foolish.

Under Pep Guardiola between 2008 and 12 the Argentinian produced some of the most scintillating form of his career and the opportunity of Lionel Messi linking-up with Kevin De Bruyne would also have any City regular salivating merely at the thought.

Pep Guardiola Manchester City

The question is, could Lionel Messi thrive in the more frenetic and muscular environment of the Premier League on a weekly basis having only really experienced the more sedate pace of La Liga?

Anyone who witnessed his displays or lack of them at Anfield in the 2019 Champions League semi-final or the mauling at the hands of Munich last season might think not.

Indeed, it would be a huge coup and a marketing manager’s dream as the side who have gone from noisy neighbours to top dogs look to avoid a similar slump to their cross-town rivals in the coming years.

You don’t become a bad player overnight, but for a transfer to work it’s like any good marriage but both sides to do their bit and for every Posh and Becks there is a Fernando Torres, Angel Di Maria or Alexis Sanchez.

Follow Matthewjcrist on Twitter

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