Lionel Messi reportedly told his agent to look into a possible move to Arsenal before he agreed a new contract with Barcelona in May 2014.
It's a fantastical story published by a reasonably reliable Spanish newspaper Vozpupli, who have been credited for reporting Arsenal's interest in Alexis Sanchez and their strange deal involving Carlos Vela.
But before Arsenal fans get ahead of themselves and start dreaming of seeing the four-time Ballon d'Or winner in the red and white shirt, there are plenty of implications to remember. First of which is whether or not the report is true—for the sake of argument, we'll assume it is.
If Messi was to move clubs, Arsenal would make sense. Their fast-flowing football is probably the best match to Barcelona's. They have a world-class manager in Arsene Wenger and world-class facilities in the Emirates Stadium and London Colney. Arsenal have housed superstars before and they most-likely will do in the future.
However, Messi is a once in a generation player, a super, superstar if you will. Not only would he be out of Arsenal's budget, but thanks to Financial Fair Play, he is out of reach from every football club apart from perhaps Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.
Even if Messi had asked for a transfer to Arsenal, it is more than likely the Gunners would be facing a huge transfer fee. Messi has a release clause of £250 million. The year ending May 2013 saw Arsenal reach a turnover of £242.8 million. That was a record for the Gunners and wouldn't even cover the cost of Messi's release clause. That's all the money Arsenal make from player sales to ticket sales right down to the salmon bagel sales.
An unhappy Messi would go for less, but even with Barcelona forced to sell they would only realistically sell for something well over the current world record of £86 million.
Say a deal was agreed—it wouldn't but bear with me—Messi would still be demanding a wage around double the current highest earner Mesut Ozil. Either Messi agrees to take a paycut, or Arsenal fork out and pay him over £300,000-a-week. So that would be a long-term contract on around £16 million-a-season.
Imagine: £250 million transfer fee, five-year £16 million-a-season deal (£78 million in total). That's a total bill of £328 million. In perspective, the Emirates Stadium cost £390 million to build.
Investing that amount in a single player would not only wreck all of Arsenal's hard work as well as put them in deep trouble with Uefa over FFP, but imagine if he signs and some lumbering buffon like Martin Taylor flies in on the first day of the season and snaps his leg in two?
Career over? Best days behind him? £328 million down the drain? That's an extreme example but investing so much in a fleshy, fragile human being and making him play in the most physical league in the world comes with incredible risks.
If the point has not been driven home yet then here is the last and most controversial factor to consider: Messi has no experience in the Premier League. It's safe to assume Messi would excel in the English game such is his quality. But would he be able to replicate the incredible goal scoring that saw him score 91 goals in a calendar year?
Thanks to the increased competition and tighter marking, you can instantly knock a third off that total.
So, would he be worth it Arsenal fans? You decide in the comments box below.
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