Reports of a potential Manchester City bid for Lionel Messi have resurfaced, this time on the Football Espana website. Mischief-making is the probable explanation, with the timing ahead of next week’s second leg between Barcelona and City incredibly suspect, but it’s likely to spark a flurry of rumour and gossip over the coming days.
The Football Espana article cites frustration with contract negotiations and the possible exit of Tata Martino in the summer as reasons for him being open to a move. City are said to have made contact with his agent and father, Jorge Messi, to establish the likelihood of a move to the Premier League.
Coverage of Messi’s tax fraud case in the Spanish press is also said to have contributed to a willingness on the part of the player to move elsewhere. The pressure of the media in Spain, according to the report, is becoming unsettling for the Argentine.
Although a move to City seems unlikely, the thought is still a tantalising one.
Messi would bring many obvious qualities. His ability to run with the ball at speed and glide past challenges is unrivalled, not just in modern football, but in the history of the game. No other player has ever displayed such a unique talent to score a goal out of nothing—to win a game that would otherwise have been drawn.
However, it's arguably the psychological impact of his arrival which would make the biggest difference to City. There have been occasions in recent seasons, such as big Champions League games, where City have looked nervy. Even in last season's FA Cup where they were playing obviously inferior opposition, they were tentative, eventually succumbing to a late goal that sealed their former manager's fate and ensured an already disappointing season ended in disaster.
Messi would provide belief. Lining up alongside the best player in football would instill confidence in those around him that they can beat anybody.
The progress City have made since the takeover by Sheikh Mansour is obvious. They've gone from perennial underachievers without a major trophy in 44 years, to a side on the cusp of greatness. They need that special element to augment their already excellent squad and take them up a level. Messi would provide that.
The chances of a move, however, still seem remote, despite the links to Barcelona in City's boardroom with Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, and the club's vast wealth. Messi and Barcelona somehow feel inextricably linked.
Rob Pollard is Bleacher Report's lead Manchester City correspondent and will be following the club from a Manchester base throughout the 2013-14 season. Follow him on Twitter here: @RobPollard_.