Lionel Messi is the greatest football player of all time. Lionel Messi is the face of Barcelona and of La Liga. Lionel Messi, the diminutive 34-year-old Argentine, has scored 672 goals and 305 assists for the Catalans in 778 total appearances across 17 silverware-laden seasons.
And as of today—and barring another shocking turn, which can’t be ruled out—he and Barca have parted ways, the financially struggling club announcing Messi will not renew his contract and will instead move on just a week before the 2021-22 season kicks off.
Obviously, our first thought on hearing the news was, Why not join Liverpool? Having played for the biggest club in Spain (pipe down, Real Madrid), why not take a turn with the biggest club in England (pipe down, Man United) for a season or two?
Win in a new league. Get Klopp hugs. Join a squad that might not choke away their chances in the Champions League in back to back seasons. All sounds a solid option, really.
Plus, Liverpool are currently flush with cash having just received an eye watering £2M from Southampton as part of their sale of Danny Ings to Aston Villa thanks to the genius sell-on clause included by sporting director/mastermind Michael Edwards when they sold him to Saints.
Only, once we gave it a little more thought, we found ourselves with a dew reservations. Reservations like Harvey Elliott, the precocious young talent who’s had an impressive pre-season and would see his path to first team football blocked by the signing of Messi.
Spending £200M or more in wages on Messi might not seem like it would be much of a gamble for Fenway Sports Group—just think of the shirt sales and the sock sales and the Messi bobblehead sales, plus it might even shut up the #FSGOut brigade for two or three weeks—but would a season or two of Messi really be worth potentially losing a decade or more of Elliott? And that’s not the only reason not to sign the Argentine, as some of our readers were quick to remind us.
Plus issues of disrupting squad cohesion after his spat with Robertson in the CL as Robertson is ‘seen to be an influential figure in the LFC dressing room’— Peter Thomas (@Peteey123) August 5, 2021
People were quick to point out the potential for disrupting squad harmony, as well as the potential issues of bringing in a forward whose pressing game doesn’t meet Jürgen Klopp’s lofty standards.
Sure, his xG and xA numbers are enticing, but can the Klopp system afford a front four player who's not willing to press?— Normcore Vaxed But Masked Rockwell (@holycalamity) August 5, 2021
Then there are the issues of finding space for him in the squad, with a midfielder desperately needed and non-homegrown places at a premium. Would it be reckless to bring Messi in before knowing what the future holds for the likes of Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Takumi Minamino? And would it really be fair to ask 1.91m Jürgen Klopp to bend and hug 1.7m Lionel Messi without considering the added strain on the gaffer’s back?
Add it all up and it hardly seems a conundrum after all—for the sake of Harvey Elliott, for the sake of squad harmony, for the sake of Jürgen’s back—but we’ve likely missed a few so do feel free to let us know your reasons why Liverpool probably shouldn’t sign Lionel Messi in the comments.