The six-time Ballon d’Or winner had looked set to sign a new contract at the Camp Nou this week. However, the much-publicised financial crisis at the club meant that a deal simply couldn’t be done – even with Messi prepared to take a substantial pay cut and defer payments in order to make it happen.
Under La Liga regulations, the Blaugrana are unable to register any newly-contracted players until they balance their books. This includes the fresh agreement with Messi. Simply put, it wasn’t possible for the 34-year-old to continue to play for Barca at the current time.
From the moment the news dropped, speculation began as to where Messi’s next destination might be.
Paris Saint-Germain appear to be a strong contender due to the Argentina captain’s close relationship with former Barcelona teammate Neymar.
However, with his Catalonia exit having been so sudden, it is unlikely that Messi has had an opportunity to properly consider his future.
There are, of course, a number of Premier League clubs that he could realistically join. A reunion with his former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola at Manchester City would certainly be a possibility.
According to one Manchester United fan who called talkSPORT on Thursday evening, though, Messi should swerve the English top-flight on the basis that he “couldn’t hack” the level of competition.
In one of the more bizarre calls that you will ever hear on a football phone-in, the Red Devils supporter seemingly disregards all of Messi’s career achievements – suggesting that he has spent the majority of it in a “lesser” league and would struggle with the physical demands of playing in England.
“Don’t talk this rubbish about Messi coming to United. Messi couldn’t hack the Premier League. That’s why he hasn’t come before now,” argues the caller.
“The Premier League is too physical and too quick for people like Messi.
“Messi would play one or two games in the Premier League. He’d get kicked up in the air and he wouldn’t want to know. It’ll be too strong for him.”
The four Champions League trophies that Messi won during his time at Barcelona tell a very different story, with the star having got the better of Premier League opposition on countless occasions.
With that said, it’s not just Messi who comes in for criticism from the highly-opinionated fan. Former Old Trafford favourite Cristiano Ronaldo is also in the firing line.
“Ronaldo did it the right way round. He came to the Premier League. He couldn’t hack it – that’s why he went abroad,” claims the caller of the Portuguese icon – who actually won the Ballon d’Or in 2008 while he was a Manchester United player. A truly astonishing take!
With 672 goals in 778 games during his legendary run at Barcelona, the numbers indicate that Messi will do just fine whenever he lands next in his career.
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