One of the stories of the short summer transfer window was that Lionel Messi wanted to leave Barcelona. Not a rumor by any means, Messi outright stated his desire to depart Camp Nou, but the board went back on a previous agreement to keep the superstar in Spain. At the time, Manchester City were perfectly positioned to give Messi a new home, but the potential transfer failed to come to fruition.
In the months since, Manchester City and Messi have been further linked. However, to be of true appeal to such a global star, City may have to accomplish a feat that has forever eluded the club: win the Champions League.
Manchester City rank just behind the reigning champions
As is always the case, the experts are struggling to split the leading contenders for the Champions League this season. In the Champions League odds, Bayern Munich and Manchester City are the clear favorites to claim Europe’s ultimate domestic crown in the outright markets,
The Bavarian side dominated the competition last season, flying to the final on a tsunami of goals before ultimately playing the spoiler to Paris Saint-Germain’s flair-filled side. So, it stands to reason that they would enter this campaign as the favorites and remain as such after winning their first three group games.
Manchester City, on the other hand, regularly clock-in amongst the Champions League favorites in the early going, but rarely capitalize on being so highly rated. Since Pep Guardiola took over as the manager, the Citizens haven’t surpassed the quarter-finals. The closest the club has ever come to the finals is the semi-finals in the season before Guardiola arrived.
If he is to convince a 33-year-old Messi that the Etihad Stadium is his best choice, it seems likely that City will need to at least improve on their recent Champions League showings. The Argentine is a natural winner and will be looking to enhance his legacy – for which he’ll need another European title.
Is Messi’s Manchester move edging closer?
Barcelona are doing rather well in the Champions League this season, matching Bayern Munich, Liverpool, and Manchester City with a perfect first half to the group stage. Regardless, Messi seems intent on leaving his club of 16 seasons, with the Premier League club being the obvious choice due to their financial resources and Guardiola’s presence.
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This is Guardiola’s fifth season at the Etihad Stadium, with his contract expiring at the end of the campaign. It already spells the Spaniard’s longest term at the helm of a club, with him consistently being given the reinforcements requested to build a Champions League-winning squad. Luckily, as he stated when he was linked back to Barça, Guardiola is happy at the club and looks set to sign a new deal.
Champions League glory continues to be his goal, and so, if Guardiola does take Manchester City to their first-ever piece of European silverware, he may see it as the perfect time to bow out. While becoming the reigning Champions League winners may be more appealing to Messi, losing the manager would seemingly eviscerate the club’s ambitions of signing him. So, perhaps, it’d be better if City landed in the sweet spot of a semi-finals knockout.
Manchester City boast a strong squad and a world-class manager. While the mighty Bayern Munich are rated above them now, the Citizens are very much in the mix as they continue to court Lionel Messi for a potential earth-shattering transfer.