Barcelona | Transfer Market He’s been linked with the Parisians
There is an increasing possibility that Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona when his contract expires on June 30, which has alerted a host of clubs but most notably Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.
We are going to focus on the first of those clubs linked as this would see the 33-year-old reunite with Neymar, a former member of the Blaugrana’s famed MSN trident.
First, there is the issue of who will be their next head coach after Thomas Tuchel was given his marching orders. The favourite to take charge is Mauricio Pochettino.
Then, there will have to be some interesting decisions made at the Parc des Princes. Angel Di Maria, Juan Bernat and Julian Draxler all have their contracts coming to an end on June 30, meaning they – like Messi – can speak to other clubs from January 1, while Neymar and Kylian Mbappe’s deals expire in 2022. The loans of Alessandro Florenzi, Danilo Pereira and Moise Kean will all finish in June, too.
The likes of Di Maria and Draxler departing would free up salary space in order to fund part of Messi’s wages, while the renewals of Bernat, Neymar and Mbappe will likely be prioritised. There is also the situation of Mauro Icardi, who was rumoured to have a poor relationship with Messi in the past and has failed to truly assert himself as PSG’s No.9. He could depart.
So, how might PSG look with Messi in the XI? We will assume that Pochettino is appointed and that he implements the 4-2-3-1 system he used at Tottenham Hotspur. In addition, we will work on the basis that they lose Di Maria and Draxler but retain Bernat, Neymar and Mbappe.
This first XI would see Messi, Mbappe and Neymar line up as more of a front three, with Ander Herrera providing support from midfield. Leandro Paredes and Marco Verratti would be the deep-lying playmakers, and then Colin Dagba would come in and replace Florenzi. This system would see the three midfielders get through a lot of running in order to allow Messi and Neymar to create and not track back so much, with Mbappe likely to benefit most from the amount of chances created.
In this XI, supposing that PSG keep hold of Icardi, this would be a fearsome front four. The back four remains the same, but Idrissa Gueye has come in as one of the holding midfielders in order to add some balance to the side. Messi would very much be the brains of the operation here, exploiting the speed of Neymar and Mbappe on the wings and the clinical nature of Icardi.
This XI is very similar to the second one, with Pablo Sarabia coming in for Icardi and Mbappe moving into the role as striker. Ander Herrera has come in for Gueye, too. The introduction of the two Spaniards will bring more energy to PSG’s play, as both Sarabia and Herrera are renowned for their work rate. This would thus give Messi and Neymar the freedom to create a plethora of chances for their teammates.