Pep Guardiola’s contract extension points to Lionel Messi transfer swoop
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The fact Pep Guardiola has signed on for a further two years at Manchester City means one thing.
That Lionel Messi is signed up, done and dusted, and on his way to the Premier League next summer.
The top flight and the rest of the continent are on notice that he’s on his way and that City are about to chuck the kitchen sink – or another, bigger one – at the Champions League as they step up their bid to finally win it under Guardiola.
Signing Guardiola for another 24 months probably wasn’t the grand statement his Manchester City chiefs would have wanted after a five-year deal had been mooted.
But it fits perfectly with a Messi move to the Etihad, and can’t you just picture the conversations the pair of them must have been having. I imagine Pep saying, ‘I’ll extend for two years, you come for two years. Come on, let’s get The Beatles back together.’
Pep Guardiola has extended his Man City stay
(Image: Manchester City FC via Getty Ima)
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The club can build a team around Messi and he can show football fans the world over that he is just as capable of doing it on a cold, wet night in Burnley or Brighton as he is on a balmy evening in Barcelona or Bilbao.
Two years later, Messi can set sail for New York City or another outfit in the City portfolio.
And Guardiola can take another sabbatical having got his hands on the Champions League again before rocking up at Paris Saint-Germain or AC Milan a year later.
It’s a win-win for all concerned.
Some people will say City aren’t getting Messi at his best, that those years are behind him.
The Catalan and Lionel Messi won huge amounts of silverware together
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
After all, he’ll be 34 by the start of the 2021-22 season. But such will be the new lease of life he will get by coming to England that City will be getting the Messi of three, four, even five years ago.
I know there will be those who would rather he stay at the Nou Camp for the remainder of his career to seal his legacy as a one-club man.
But I’m not one of them because I’m all for the best players coming to the Premier League.
It was still a mostly English Premier League during my playing days but then Eric Cantona arrived, and Jurgen Klinsmann, and players of their stature added massively to the game in this country.
Then we saw players like Juninho and Fabrizio Ravanelli weave themselves into the fabric of our game. Now Messi, who is on a different planet to all of them, is set to do the same.
Lionel Messi has expressed his displeasure at the current state of Barcelona
(Image: SIPA USA/PA Images)
I know he doesn’t need to prove anything but he’d still feel he had a massive point to prove here. It would be the first time he has played in a league where the test is a broad one because there’s much more quality across the Premier League than there is in La Liga.
I’d even go as far as to say the brilliant little Argentinian might believe he can reinvent himself to a degree – fresh starts can do that for players, no matter what they have achieved in their careers.
Even the greatest players will look at a new challenge and say, ‘Right, I’d better pull my tripe out here,’ and I can see him thinking along the lines of, ‘I’ll do that because I’m with Pep, who I trust implicitly.’
His arrival will be massive for the Premier League and who is to say that, in 2022, we won’t be toasting another Ballon d’Or win for Messi but this time one he has won in England?