Talk of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona is “sad”, admits Gary Lineker, but the potential arrival of “the most magical footballer” at Manchester City is exciting for the Premier League.
Few clubs could afford to finance a deal for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner if he were to open himself up to a new challenge. The presence of Sheikh Mansour at the Etihad Stadium would, however, put City very much in the mix.
The Blues also have Pep Guardiola in their dugout, with the Catalan coach having previously worked with Messi at Barca.
Lineker says it would be positive for City and English football, although the former Blaugrana striker is disappointed to see any questions being asked of an all-time great who has spent his entire senior career to date at Camp Nou.
“It’s sad because you’ve got a generation of players who have been great and have won a lot, but old father time catches up with everyone and it’s brutal, particularly in football,” Lineker, who spent three years at Barca between 1986 and 1989, told talkSPORT.
“Koeman has got one hell of a job on his hands, this is going to be a massive transition period.
“It would be interesting to see whether Messi does stay or leave, and it would be very sad for Barcelona, but at the same time it would be very sad to see his last couple of years at the top just peter out in an ordinary team.
“Imagine if he did come to the Premier League, say a club like Manchester City, which is the obvious link because of Guardiola.With all the investment at City and the club want to turn into a global brand, who better than someone who had got hundreds of millions of fans all around the world?
“It would do it instantly. All of a sudden Manchester City would have fans all over the world.
“For one of the new money clubs like City, it takes a long time to build that fanbase. So you could see there would be an interest, and that’s aside from the fact he’s also the most magical footballer I think we’ve ever seen.”
Messi is yet to commit to a new contract at Barcelona, with his current terms due to expire in the summer of 2021, and has held talks with new coach Ronald Koeman regarding his future plans.