If he chooses to embark on a Premier League adventure, Manchester City will be the best place” for Lionel Messi, says Pablo Zabaleta, with the Argentine superstar thought to have lost his passion for Barcelona football.
After becoming disillusioned with life on and off the field in Catalunya, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner made a push for the exits at Camp Nou over the summer.
No extension to that arrangement has yet been decided, meaning that from January Messi will be able to talk to interested parties.
City is said to be jostling for position at the front of a transfer queue along with Ligue 1 heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain, with both possessing the financial muscle to put in place a spectacular offer.
Zabaleta believes the opportunity for his fellow countryman to test himself in the Premier League would be welcome, particularly since there are already a number of familiar faces at Etihad Stadium.
“The former City defender told Stadium Astro, “It’s sad to see Messi in that condition first of all.
“I never imagined he would be in Barcelona for the final year of his contract. The team doesn’t play well and it seems he’s not loving his football, he’s not happy, and at the end of the season we’ll see what happens to Messi.
He has a close friend at Man City in Sergio [Aguero] and has previously collaborated with Pep [Guardiola] in Barcelona, so they know each other. Some of the individuals on the board know Messi as well.
If Messi were to decide that he wanted to leave Barcelona, that he wanted to go and play in another league, in another country, Man City would be one of them, of course.
I know Leo and he’s been in Barcelona for a long time now. I would like him to stay in Barcelona. This has been said by Pep before. He loves the club, and I’m not watching him leave Barcelona. ”
But if he decides to leave, then there might be a place for him to go and enjoy Man City. Every player would like to have some Premier League experience.
In addition to the message he would send to a former Argentina team-mate, Zabaleta, who spent nine years at City between 2008 and 2017, added: “I’d say to him:’ Manchester is a lovely place to live, it never rains, it’s not cold like Barcelona!” ’
“As a football player, he might want to try another experience. The Premier League is the world’s best and maybe he wants to go there and enjoy it for a few years.
When it comes to new terms for Messi, Barca refuses to give up hope, as they count down to the club’s next presidential election on January 24, but the clock is ticking and it may be that in 2021, a modern-day great will decide to sever ties with the only club he has represented at senior level.