All week long, the editorial staff of Eurosport enjoys imagining the biggest stars on the football planet in a club other than their own. Here, no transfer info but a good dose of imagination and a bit of fantasy for football lovers under the expert eye of Jean-Marc Furlan. First episode on Monday with the incorporation of Lionel Messi in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Why this marriage

Do you remember Barça de Guardiola with emotion? You are not alone. If some dream of seeing the Catalan on the blaugrana bench, there is another possibility of finding the duo Guardiola – Messi in action: imagine “the Pulga” in Manchester City.


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Basically, the real possibilities are limited but between the desire for a new challenge for the sixfold Ballon d’Or, the possibility of an XXL salary, the attraction of the Premier League and total freedom given to the duo to restart a somewhat stunted Manchester City, there is no shortage of arguments.

In City, Messi could find a DNA game that he has already fully understood, with significant variations, however. But also some players with whom the technical marriage seems enticing: De Bruyne, Aguëro, Sterling, Bernardo Silva or Riyad Mahrez.

Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi

Getty Images Credits

Possible schemes

  • The 4-4-3 with Messi in fake mint

It’s obvious. By replacing Messi in the axis, Guardiola would give him all the keys to the citizen truck. Closer to the goal and therefore more dangerous, the Pulga would also have plenty of time to launch the Sterling and Mahrez rockets into the back of a defense which it would amuse itself by disturbing with its dezoning and its positioning between the lines. But to give Messi the role of false nine would be to sacrifice Sergio Aguëro, the only real surface player. Too heartbreaking to be really considered.

  • The 4-4-3 with Messi torchbearer

Warning the eyes ! Still on the main line but a little further from the goal, Messi could take the clothes of the “playmaker” so dear to the English by placing him in the heart of the citizen reactor. The Argentinian would replace David Silva and be responsible for feeding the trident Sterling-Agüero-Mahrez (or Bernardo Silva) with balloons. Attractive … but so unbalanced. With his acceleration and recovery game, Messi does not seem to be the ideal client to be box-to-box in England. Between its volume of races, its limited physical impact and a relative lack of interest in defensive withdrawal (withdrawal?), Difficult to imagine it as a third torchbearer, especially when his other friend is De Bruyne.

The chosen scheme: 4-3-3 with Messi right winger

Tactical Fantasies – A possible Manchester City composition with Lionel Messi

Eurosport credits

Everyone remembers Messi in false nine for the needs of certain matches. But the natural position of the Argentine genius has not changed: right winger to better transplant in the axis. His ability to combine with Dani Alves had allowed him to become the best side of his generation. “We must also see the strength that Guardiola could unleash on his right side with Messi, explains Jean-Marc Furlan who did not hesitate a second when placing the Argentinian on the field. When you are the side opposite Messi, even if there is space to climb, you will worry about climbing even if it is your natural game. When you see the influence he can have in a corridor that he will however tend to abandon …

The other strong point: associate it with Sterling, who loves depth, but also with his friend Agüero who is not the most clumsy of the center-fenders. Between the three, a real chemistry supplied by a Kevin de Bruyne who could also complete a terrifying offensive quartet. Especially since in terms of habit, the three current Citizens would not be lost: for several seasons, it is often Riyad Mahrez or Bernardo Silva, other left-handed wingers on the right, who appear as incumbents.

Messi and Aguero in Argentine selection

Getty Images Credits

They are real. The first is obvious: Messi will not perform the usual overflow function of the typical winger. On his relationship with his side, and the offensive talent of it, depend the offensive performance of the whole right side of Guardiola. If he can eliminate anyone in one-on-one, the Argentinian is not a fanatic of the depth demanded by the animation of the Catalan.

The other limit is more physical. If the Champions League has allowed him to score against all the English clubs he has met, the Premier League remains a championship with an athletic dimension much more demanding than elsewhere. “It’s true that the intensity of the Premier League can be a problem, Furlan fears. It’s the densest championship in the world“Especially for a winger whose function is also to assist his side on certain defensive folds, which is not fond of the Argentinian.

The balance sheet

Attractive but probably too disturbing. For him first. “There is the risk of uprooting for him, especially for someone of his temper, with a very different style of football, says the AJA coach. How can a player in his thirties, who has always lived and played in the same place, who is in his house, adapt to another football, to another culture? Even as a genius, it can be damaging“.

For City and Guardiola then who should rethink their game plan based on a Messi whose incorporation is not obvious outside of Barça. So, for the good of football, let’s leave it where it expresses itself best: on the field of Camp Nou!

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