Just one day after categorically denying that he’s seeking a transfer from Barcelona, Lionel Messi reignited the furore of speculation surrounding his future at the Ballon d’Or ceremony.
As recently as Sunday the Argentine described rumours that his representatives had parlayed with Chelsea and Manchester City as ‘lies’, but less than 24 hours later admitted he is ‘not sure’ where he’ll be playing next season.
The comment, according to The Guardian, has Manchester United on tenterhooks and, while the switch is difficult to comprehend, it’s one that could conceivably take place.
Prospective suitors would have to pay an eye-watering £195m to buy Messi out of his Nou Camp contract, which, on top of his astronomical wage demands, would see the bank balances of outfits such as Chelsea and Man City plunged into territory where the financial fair play regulators lurk.
This, however, wouldn’t be the case for the self-sufficient Red Devils, as Chief Executive Ed Woodward spelled out last summer:
“Whether it’s a [world] record or not doesn’t really resonate with us. What resonates is an elite player that the manager wants who is going to be a star for Manchester United.”
These quotes were taken in relation to the club’s ability to lure Ballon d’Or 2014 winner Cristiano Ronaldo back to Old Trafford.
Financially speaking, there wouldn’t be much of a discrepancy between potential deals for CR7 and his South American nemesis, yet few questioned the plausibility of Man Utd luring the Portuguese superstar back to the club at the time.
A disgruntled Messi, if he genuinely wants to leave Barcelona, would have to be to open to making the move.
After all, his only other alternative would be to join Real Madrid; an entirely impossible outcome for myriad reasons.
Man Utd spent exorbitant amounts of money in the summer to procure world-class talents such as Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao, proving they have the muscle to attract players of this stature, as well as the intentions to forge an all-conquering team.
In Louis van Gaal, they have a coach who is used to managing the egos of the planet’s elite.
Similarly, one of Messi’s reported gripes at Barcelona is with boss Luis Enrique, a coach who was anything but lauded in soccer circles prior to landing the Catalunyan post.
Van Gaal’s reputation as one of the finest tactical minds in operation is sure to appeal to the unsettled Argentine too.
Messi is 3/1 to be plying his trade for any club other than Barcelona on September 2nd 2015.