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Messi should consider Barcelona exit



Messi should consider Barcelona exit



Not so long ago Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu was fairly bullish in his stance on Lionel Messi's future. "We are all convinced that he will end his playing days at the heart of this club. All the socios believe it, it's just a question of how we get over the line," he said in an attempt to stunt the perennial speculation concerning Messi's future. This was in November, but already Bartomeu's remarks seem outdated.
Never before has the prospect of Messi one day leaving Barcelona been so real. Speculation this week has raised the possibility that he could make the move to the Premier League, with Manchester City reported to be leading the chase for the Argentine's signature. Of course, he would be reunited with Pep Guardiola were he to pitch up at the Etihad Stadium.
Of course, this could just be the dance that comes before yet another Messi contract extension at the Camp Nou. That's the way it went for Neymar last year, and so it wouldn't be such a surprise if these rumours linking Messi away from Barcelona are just part of the strategy to get him a new deal at the club.
But if there is an offer on the table for Messi to join Man City, or another Premier League club for that matter, he should at least consider it. For the first time in his career there's a case to be made that he could get more from making a move away from the Camp Nou than staying there.
Messi will most likely go down as the greatest player of all time. He could never kick a ball again and still be considered the most gifted player to have ever played the game. But nonetheless, his legend could be boosted even further by succeeding with another team in another country.
Unless Messi one day makes a move abroad this is something Cristiano Ronaldo will always have over his great adversary, that he has been the best of the best in both Spain and England. If Messi only ever pulls on the colours of Barcelona a lingering question held always against him. It's not that anyone believes Messi wouldn't succeed in the Premier League, but would he be able to continue his supremacy to the same extent in England?
Factor into the whole equation that Barcelona have little to offer him, besides more money of course, and a possible switch to Manchester City, or Chelsea or Manchester United who have also been linked, looks all the more realistic. What does Messi have left to prove at the club, having won eight Liga titles, four Copa del Rey and four Champions Leagues?
There is obviously an appeal that comes with being a one-club man in the mould of someone like Carlos Puyol or Francesco Totti. Messi could become the greatest one-club man of them all should he stay at Barcelona for the remainder of his career. But in the increasingly volatile, increasingly short-sighted modern game the one-club man is becoming a rarity. In many cases, it's just not feasible, and Messi might become one of those cases.
Messi has kept his counsel on rumours linking him most notably with Manchester City, keeping himself to himself as he tends to do. It is not his style to make statements through the media, but there has been nothing from him or his camp to refute any suggestion he might leave Barca
And so the speculation will continue. It once seemed almost fated that Messi would start and finish his career at Barcelona. He is a true giant of the club, defining an era of glittering success more than anyone else - more than Andres Iniesta, more than Xavi Hernandez and perhaps even more than Guardiola.
But just like Guardiola, Messi might find that his time at Barcelona reaches a natural end. That he must challenge himself elsewhere to underline his greatness. Messi could do that at Man City, becoming a giant at another club, in another country. He would be foolish not to even contemplate that thought.

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