As speculation over the Argentine’s future continues to swirl, a former Blue has raised doubts over a possible switch to Etihad Stadium
Former Manchester City defender Danny Mills believes that the Etihad Stadium is the only realistic next destination for Lionel Messi should he leave Barcelona, but is not sure how the Argentine superstar would fit into Pep Guardiola’s system or who he would replace in the team.
A public fallout between Messi and Barca sporting director Eric Abidal has led to suggestions that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner could walk out the Camp Nou exit door this summer.
The Argentina international has a clause in his current contract which gives him the option to leave the club for free at the end of the season, with City reportedly hoping to capitalise on his situation.
Messi played under Guardiola at Camp Nou between 2008 and 2012 – a period which saw Barca win two European Cups and two La Liga titles.
Ex-City defender Mills believes it is possible for the pair to link up again at Etihad Stadium, but feels Guardiola would have to change his entire system to incorporate Messi into his starting line-up.
“Manchester City is the only club he could go to,” Mills told Talksport. “Because of the way that they play and his relationship with Pep Guardiola, Pep probably understands him more than anybody from his days at Barcelona.
“You think of Manchester United and there’s been talk of that, but I don’t see him going there. City is the only place I think he could come to the Premier League.
“He is sensational, we know that, but you’d have to build the whole team around him, he needs legs around him.
“And you suddenly think, well, actually, where would you play him at City? You’d have to change everything. He’d play instead of who?
“And is he really desperate to come to Manchester? He knows what the weather is like, I’m sure.
“He’s used to Barcelona and South America, I’m not sure Manchester is going to be his cup of tea.”
Guardiola himself responded to claims he could sign Messi on Friday, with the Catalan coach insisting that he hopes the playmaker retires at Camp Nou.
Messi’s frustrations in a Barca shirt continued on Thursday night, meanwhile, as the reigning Spanish champions suffered a surprise Copa Del Rey quarter-final defeat at the hands of Athletic Club.
An Inaki Williams strike in stoppage time gave the home side a 1-0 victory, leaving Barca in danger of missing out on domestic silverware come May.
Quique Setien’s men trail pacesetters Real Madrid by three points in the La Liga standings after 22 fixtures, with a tough trip to Real Betis up next on Sunday.