Former Manchester City forward Emile Mpenza believes the club should prioritize other positions ahead of Lionel Messi next summer.
The Barcelona skipper sent shockwaves around the world when he submitted a transfer request seeking to leave Camp Nou after two decades in Catalunya.
However, the Argentinean talisman reneged on his decision after factoring in the legal implications involved, which would have required him to take the club to court.
The presence of Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, who are key men at the Etihad, further strengthened the club's confidence of completing the signing. The duo has strong ties to Barcelona and a healthy relationship with Messi's camp.
Despite choosing to remain at the Camp Nou, it is widely believed that Messi will walk away when his contract expires next summer. Many believe that the Etihad could be his next port of call.
However, former Belgian international Mpenza has cautioned against the potential transfer, claiming the club has more pressing needs.
Speaking on the issue, he said:
"I think that with all the defensive problems [Pep] Guardiola has, he doesn’t really need someone like Messi,"
"He should sort the leaky defense out first. [Vincent] Kompany has left a huge hole at the heart of the defense and City are yet to find the stability they had when Kompany was running the backline."
"It’s a tall order to fill Vincent’s shoes and what’s the point of signing Messi with all the issues they have at the back?"
''They have enough players in his position like [Riyad] Mahrez and [Sergio] Aguero. If they sign Messi that would be too many players for the same position and cause problems."
''I believe that he will link up with Pep Guardiola again at some point in his career, but not at City itself but rather for their partner club New York City FC."
"Guardiola has managed in three of the best European leagues such as La Liga, the Premier League and Bundesliga with only Serie A missing. For me MLS is his next stop and he will take Messi with him there."
What could be the next step for Messi in his career?
As already touched upon, it is highly possible this is the last season we see Messi in a Barcelona jersey.
However, a lot could happen before his contract expires in the summer and several things could bring him to change his mind.
One of his major complaints against the club was the boardroom functioning. That particular problem has been resolved to an extent with the resignation of the much-maligned Josep Bartomeu from the post of club president.
Bartomeu's resignation opens up a world of opportunities for the Blaugrana and with fresh elections slated for January, a new board could come in and stabilize matters significantly at Camp Nou.
That could be enough for Messi to consider extending his contract with the club. Nonetheless, regardless of how things pan out, the 33-year-old deserves to leave on his terms, after devoting his career to the club for 20 years.Published 05 Nov 2020, 20:27 IST