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Messi deal would be 'surreal' and 'mind-boggling', but it would not fix everything at Man City

Lionel Messi - cropped
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi
Omnisport
NEWS
Modified 27 Aug 2020, 19:26 IST
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Lionel Messi joining Manchester City would be a "surreal" moment for the club but will not fix all of their problems, it was claimed on Thursday.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner stunned the footballing world on Tuesday when he told Barca of his desire to leave the club he joined at the age of 13.

City are one of a small number of sides believed to be interested in Messi, who reportedly intends to activate a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for free.

Messi has scored 634 goals in 731 appearances during his time at Camp Nou.

David Mooney, host of the popular and long-running Blue Moon Podcast, is excited about the prospect of City signing the prolific Argentinian.

"I think it's all a bit surreal at the moment. The idea that City could sign who I think is the best player in the world is just mind-boggling, even after what we've seen over the past 10 or 12 years or so," Mooney told Stats Perform News.

"We're talking about the best player in the world moving to the Etihad. It's still very much a 'I'll believe it when I see it', no matter how strong the rumours get, no matter how much pace the story gathers.

"Until Lionel Messi is sitting with [director of football] Txiki Begiristain, holding up a City shirt, I'm not going to believe that he's on his way to the Etihad.

"You have to do that or you'll drive yourself mad with excitement and you've got that potential of being crushed like never before."

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However, as much as Messi's arrival would generate fanfare, Mooney concedes strengthening at the back is imperative if City are to improve on an underwhelming 2019-20.

"It's a situation where, if Messi is available, you have to go out and get him. If you can make it work then you go and get him, just because of how good he is," Mooney said.

"City's season last season was a bit of a paradox. Their goalkeeper won the Golden Glove but they didn't keep enough clean sheets; they scored the most goals in the Premier League but they didn't score enough goals.

"The problems they need to fix are in those games like away at Norwich, like away at Southampton, where they create and create and create but nothing goes in.

"I suppose that is what Messi will fix. The bigger issue is City were so easily picked apart last season and Messi doesn't fix that really.

"Maybe I can contradict myself and say he might do, if City have so much more of the ball and he's so much of a threat, then on the see-saw balance of the game, the opposition can't have that much more of the ball and can't have many breakaways."

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Pep Guardiola's side have already recruited Nathan Ake from Bournemouth but could be about to lose Eric Garcia to Barcelona, leaving them light at centre-back.

"If City go into the new season with only Nathan Ake as their new centre-back and somehow Nicolas Otamendi is still on the books I guess there'd be a lot of City fans bashing their heads against a brick wall," Mooney said.

"They really need to strengthen the centre-back situation, especially if they lose Eric Garcia. I suppose Eric Garcia going the other way in a Messi deal is a bit of an odd one and one that not many other people would complain about.

"But the bigger picture is that they've lost another decent centre-back and not reinforced that if they don't get someone like [Kalidou] Koulibaly in.

"I think they know they need to reinforce the centre-backs other than bringing in Nathan Ake. I don’t think they would drop everything just to go out and get Messi."

Reuniting with head coach Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium could be a huge factor in Messi's decision, having spent four trophy-laden seasons together at Barca.

But Mooney is cautious about what Messi's potential arrival would mean in terms of raising expectations at City.

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"It's as if Messi is this magic bullet to win the Champions League. It's only fair that we say Guardiola has only won the Champions League with Messi in his team," he said.

"Guardiola has won the same number of Champions Leagues as Sir Alex Ferguson did and Ferguson took, what, 15 years more.

"On top of that, Messi's won it once since Guardiola hasn't been managing him. Maybe Messi needs Guardiola to win the Champions League as well.

"I don’t know how much it changes because my expectations for City last season were to put on a very good title challenge and then to do well in the three cup competitions.

"That's kind of where we're at again with Messi. I don't think you can go into the season and say I want them to win all four because they've got the best player in the world. Again. It's unfair.

"They have the best chance out of anybody of winning all four, but it doesn’t make it easy or likely to happen. I don't think it changes that much."

Published 27 Aug 2020, 19:26 IST
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