If the unthinkable actually happens and Lionel Messi leaves Barcelona, everyone seems to be wondering where he might end up if anyone can even afford him.
Man City, PSG and Inter would be three of his likeliest destinations but any potential move would be a very complicated affair. Ignoring the logistical issues and astronomical wage demands, what would these three clubs look like with him in the side?
Such is the great man's stature in the game that he would walk into any first team on the planet and immediately become a key player and senior figure in the dressing room. The question is, which players would have to step aside in order to accommodate Messi in a club that's lucky enough to acquire the Argentine's services?
🌃 Man City with Messi (4-3-3):
🧮 Ederson; Walker, Koulibaly, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodri, De Bruyne, Foden; Messi, Agüero, Sterling
A dream reunion with Pep Guardiola at Man City would give rise to the possibility of Messi teaming up with compatriot Sergio Agüero. If that materializes, City would have Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and new signing Ferran Torres as attacking options from the bench. Can Pep manage that? With persistent rumours linking City with big-money moves for a new central defender (Kalidou Koulibaly comes to mind), will they even be in the running for Messi's signature in accordance with FFP?
If Messi follows his natural instincts start wide on the right but drop into central areas, Kyle Walker will provide the stamina and width on that flank. There's also the option of dropping Messi and Kevin De Bruyne a little deeper centrally and Phil Foden coming in from the right.
🇫🇷 PSG with Messi (4-3-3):
🧮 Navas; Kehrer, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Bernat; Paredes, Verratti, Gueye; Mbappé, Messi, Neymar
If Messi were to make the switch to Paris, 2020's Champions League runners-up would have an absolutely fearsome front three and Leo would be reunited with Neymar. Another Argentinian, Mauro Icardi, would be left out in the cold and Thomas Tuchel would have a man-management nightmare on his hands. The ex-Inter man is known for his slightly unpredictable temperament.
No matter how this attacking triumvirate lines up, it would be a living hell for defenders.
⚫️ Inter with Messi (3-4-1-2):
🧮 Handanović; Bastoni, de Vrij; Godín; Hakimi, Brozović, Barella, Young; Messi; Lukaku, Martínez
What about the project at Inter Milan under the stewardship of Antonio Conte? His 3-5-2 system would very likely have to be modified into a 3-4-1-2 so that Messi can pull the strings with minimal defensive responsibilities, creating chance after chance for fellow Argentine Lautaro Martínez and brilliant Belgian Romelu Lukaku, a man who bagged 34 goals in his debut season at San Siro.
This is all assuming that Messi ultimately makes the move, of course. Where would he fit in best, or rather, how would Messi's potential new club fit everyone else around him?
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