Manchester City appear to be the leading contenders to sign Lionel Messi this summer.
There are still a few legal hurdles to clear before Messi can start putting pen to paper on a contract elsewhere, but you get the feeling that groundwork is being laid to bring the Argentine to England.
Messi to Man City?
And as much as clubs like Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and even Manchester United are being linked with a move, it can be no coincidence that City are the club in everyone's mouth right now.
It makes sense for Messi to reunite with Pep Guardiola after their incredible partnership at Camp Nou and the Premier League would be the perfect arena in which he could prove his versatility.
That, and the fact City's brand of football would surely bring out the best in Messi with the sort of expansive, passing and fluid approach that has arguably died out at Barcelona since 2015.
Messi in the Premier League
There's still a long way to go before we see Messi in a City jersey, if that is indeed what the 33-year-old hopes to achieve, but I'm pretty sure we're not alone in speculating about that possibility.
Besides, it's been debated for years and years exactly how Messi would fare in the Premier League and now we could just be a few weeks away from finding out the answer.
But if we know anything about sport in England, it's that people love to make predictions before anything major happens in the hope they'll either look like Nostradamus or can laugh at how stupid they were months later.
11 predictions for Messi at Man City
So, here we are, putting our credibility on the line by predicting 11 things that we think will happen if Messi seals his exit away from Barcelona and chooses the Etihad Stadium as his next destination:
1. Manchester City give him a cringe-worthy presentation
Look, look, look... I promise this isn't going to be one long list of two-dimensional jibes at City, but come on guys, even you've got to admit that you aren't the best at organised presentations.
Whether it's lifting the Premier League trophy outside the ground or playing random music as the players exit the coach, it always tends to feel sterile or wreaks of commercialism.
Combine that with the fact fans probably wouldn't be able to attend because of the COVID-19 pandemic and you can be sure that Messi will get a strange welcome to life at City.
We can't wait to see him walking out into an empty stadium to strangely night club-like music, before hugging Moonchester and being taught Manchester slag in a cringe-worthy first interview.
2. Manchester City win the Premier League
See, I'm not just being mean, I promise.
I've been predicting City to wrestle back the Premier League title from Liverpool way before Messi was even on their radar, so signing arguably the world's best player would end the debate for good.
Plus, with rumours circulating that Kalidou Koulibaly will be joining City, they'll finally have a centre-back partnership that will breed the sort of consistent results that Liverpool have been churning out.
The Reds will run them close, don't get me wrong, but City will exceed 90 points for the third time in four seasons to place the Premier League trophy in Messi's hands.
3. Messi breaks the Premier League assist record
Kevin De Bruyne and Thierry Henry currently share this piece of history by way of racking up 20 assists in the 2019/20 and 2002/03 seasons respectively, which is setting the bar pretty high.
But try telling that to Messi who, as he slowly converts his playing style into that of a playmaker, went one better by turning provider for 21 goals in La Liga this season.
I fully expect those sort of numbers to become customary for Messi as we see him playing deeper and deeper and with City's midfield proving a major upgrade on Barca's, you can expect the record to fall.
4. Messi falls short of the Golden Boot top ten
However... there's no denying that Messi becoming more of a playmaker has taken a toll on his goal-scoring, though it goes without saying that scoring 'just' 25 league goals is still great going.
We expect that to keep tumbling down in the Premier League, however, both in terms of Messi adapting to English football and also because Guardiola could help facilitate the star man's retreat into midfield.
I expect him to produce somewhere in the region of 13-15 league goals during his first year at City, placing behind the likes of Marcus Rashford, Danny Ings, Jamie Vardy, Anthony Martial and Raheem Sterling.
It sounds brutal, but you know it makes sense (it does for me, at least).
5. Kevin De Bruyne becomes human again
Is there room for the best two passers in the world to play in the same midfield?
I don't think there's any denying that De Bruyne and Messi sharing the pitch will be anything but a good thing for City, though I would expect that the Belgian's one-man-team routine will come to an end as a result.
De Bruyne was carrying the Citizens by himself at times last season, so I expect, with Messi by his side, that his stats would experience a slight decline in 2020/21, albeit by no fault of his own.
6. Manchester City STILL fail to win the Champions League
Yeh, sorry City fans, but I think you need more than Messi to end your Champions League hoodoo and shoring up your defence with Koulibaly might not be enough, either.
Even with the greatest player of all time in their starting XI, I fail to see a world in which the Citizens could outdo this omnipotent Bayern Munich side or perhaps even a resurgent Paris Saint-Germain.
I predict City to finally make it past the quarter-finals under Guardiola next season, only to come unstuck against this menacing side from Bavaria that could start dominating Europe's top competition.
City probably only have a two-season window in which Messi could prove the difference for them in the Champions League and I'm doubtful that that's enough time for them to put their demons to bed.
Besides, Messi seems to have the same mental block in Europe that City do right now.
7. Messi will score on a cold, windy night in Burnley
Some things are just meant to happen and although Messi wouldn't be playing on a 'cold, windy night in Stoke', you just know he'll thrive in the next best thing: a trip to Turf Moor.
We don't really have any more logic behind this other than the fact Messi struggling in tough weather conditions and against teams that play long-ball football is nothing short of a fallacy.
Whether it's Burnley or West Brom or West Ham, you name it, Messi will silence the doubters by scoring a glorious solo goal when the rain is pounding down and seasoned professionals are trying to crop him.
8. Liverpool players will rough him up at Anfield
Let's not pretend as though Andrew Robertson and James Milner won't be sniffing blood in the water when Messi steps off the team bus on Merseyside.
The more rough and tumble players in this formidable Liverpool squad will be hungry to subject both City and Messi to more heartache at Anfield and I fully back them to win convincingly at home.
As much as I love Messi, he sometimes in disappears in games exactly like this, so I imagine him being substituted off around 70 minutes after being battered with tackles and shoulder-barges all game long.
9. Messi won't play in any cup games until the latter stages
A pretty straight forward prediction, this one. Barcelona have spent the last few seasons being increasingly choosey about which games Messi makes the squad for, never mind the bench.
And I only expect that to increase amidst the brutal scheduling of English football, particularly around Christmas time, so I fully anticipate Messi to be sidelined for many of the early cup ties.
It would only make sense for Messi to rear his head in the Carabao Cup or FA Cup from the semi-final stages, if City are facing top, top opposition or they needed a late goal to survive.
10. Manchester City will name a pitch after him
I couldn't go more than 10 predictions without a thinly-veiled dig at City, could I? Look, I'm sorry, but the team at the Etihad Stadium aren't afraid to give out props to some of their recent players.
I don't even have a problem with Joe Hart having a pitch named after him nor speculation about David Silva earning a statue, it's just that I can't see City doing anything less than wanting to milk Messi playing for them.
So, yes, whether it's while he's playing in Manchester or when he eventually waves goodbye, I just know they'll name something named after him, whether that's a pitch, canteen, stand or recycling bin.
11. Messi will never win the Ballon d'Or again
Trust me, this is much less of a slight on Messi than it might seem at first.
We can't deny that the Premier League would be a tougher division for Messi to regularly score in and thus, there's good reason to think his headline stats, barring assists, will reach a plateau.
Combine that with the fact I'm predicting City to continue their Champions League struggles and that Messi will be 35 years old by the time of the next World Cup to see that his trophy cabinet might not be Ballon d'Or-worthy, either.
As a result, I expect the likes of Neymar, Robert Lewandowski, Kylian Mbappe to keep their hands firmly on the golden trophy despite Messi's best efforts in England.
But... will Messi move?
We've put our foot in it, haven't we?
Of course, there's no crystal ball here at the GIVEMESPORT headquarters that allows us to conjure up a future with Messi at City and we don't doubt for a second that many of these could look laughable in a year's time.
But the one prediction we do want to come true is Messi actually moving to the Premier League because, let's face it, having one of the greatest athletes ever on English shores would be simply fantastic.
Come on, Lionel, you know you want to...
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