Nearly seventeen years ago, the world was introduced to a young boy, who’d eventually grow to establish his own category of all-time greats. Still a kid in the eyes of the world, Lionel Messi provided a glimpse of his potential, in his early days with Barcelona.
Club-wise, Messi has accomplished it all. We are now all waiting for his Barcelona departure, which is highly linked with a three year Manchester City run. But what about after that?
Over the course of his Barcelona career, Messi became the face of the sport, and in the process was also a Liga and UCL record-breaking machine. He’s scored against over thirty different Spanish clubs, 34 free-kick goals, 35 Liga hat-tricks, first player with 20 goals and assists in a single season, over 1000 combined goals and assists, and the first player to score in 15 consecutive UCL campaigns.
Downhill Performance and Pending Departure
In recent years, a decline in his productivity was clear as daylight. A decade ago, Messi could score double digits throughout the season. As of recently, he barely reached three goals in this UCL. In prior competitions, he scored in the high forties and low fifties. This time around, Messi only netted 33 goals.
Earlier this month, the empire came crashing down. Messi and Barca fought valiantly, as they reached the UCL quarter-finals. Bayern Munich on the other hand steamrolled their way in. Barca was crushed, 2-8. Messi couldn’t mustard an effective run or pass, he was just there.
MLS Career post-Manchester City run?
With Messi’s exit approaching, joining Manchester City seems imminent. It’s the dream scenario for Man City; Barca’s talisman being reunited with former Barca coach Pep Guardiola.
Here’s the issue. Messi signing with the EPL giants is full of advertisements highlighting him at this prime, and intentionally overlooking recent performances and age. The EPL is no different in competitiveness to La Liga, so at one point Messi will struggle.
Championship winning Messi is who will be marketed, en route to an NYCFC debut. Add the massive price Messi has on right now. Man City is offering €90 (S100M USD). Let’s say the wheels are set in motion for a NYCFC run. There is no way that City Football Club (NYCFC and Manchester City owners) will pay Messi close to that much, for an MLS run. Messi will be offered a massive pay cut, which he’ll likely not take.
Of course, there’s the most important part; how will he do? At 36 years old, Messi will likely still be a great player, at most. The best role for Messi at that age will be to game manage and become a poacher. Messi will be able to effectively run the ball, to some extent. Without question, he’ll find the back of the net plenty of times.
For MLS, it doesn’t help their case as a legitimate competitive league. It just further reinforces the image of the league being a “retirement home” for former UEFA players. Then again, Messi signing with an MLS brings attention to the league. Already providing quality soccer, plus a big name playing for the league will attract attention, including the possibility of fan growth.
It can go both ways. Regardless, the cons outweigh the pros of Messi in MLS. How does an MLS career for Messi sound to you?