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Thursday Night Football with Jon Giles. Johnny Giles is a national treasure when he speaks. I mean, I'm like, yes, yes, yes, when he's on the show. I was in the car the other day, parked the car, and I sprinted into the house and turned on the radio. I love listening to him. I love Johnny Giles.
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Glad to say we're joined on the line by the Manchester City writer for the Athletics Family. Good morning to you. Good morning. Interesting times to be a football writer. Manchester City at the minute.
Yeah. I'm wondering how good a quality to my camera is. You could probably see a few wrinkles appearing on the eyes. Not so much sleep and a lot of stress last few days, Bill. All fun and games. Yeah.
The prospect of having Lionel Messi at our doorstep in a time zone that suits in, you know, a game that we all watch, regret, regularity, regularity. He's got everybody very excited. Some slight developments this morning in that. It seems like the Barcelona president has decided that he would be willing to fall on his sword if it meant that Lionel Messi would stay. And so we have to wait and see whether this is just some sort of a ploy by him to double bluff Messi or in fact, it's real.
But if he is to go anywhere for a raft of different reasons, it seems like Manchester City is the most natural fit. Yeah, exactly, yeah, that's probably a good way of cutting through everything. There's all sorts of different things that could go into it and why he could or couldn't actually leave. But if he does manage it, then city, our city are ready and waiting. Basically, they they've kind of been they've wanted to get in a position to be ready to take him for what?
And more than 10 years now, obviously, since the owners came in, I think the owners have always wanted Messi. They've always wanted Gladiola, they've always wanted Messi. It looked like, you know, they they've got one of those. It looked like they got one of those. They just came close to getting Messi, I think four years ago in 2016. It was pretty close, but I wouldn't say it as close as it is now.
And I remember back in February, there was more talk of Messi being unhappy. And I was kind of thinking of my own opinion. I thought he said he wouldn't go from now 33 years old, surely financially not viable, but had managed to do a bit of digging around and found out the city was still there in February, willing to game this summer if he you know, if he did want to leave. And this is the situation we're in now, they've always, you know.
Because of their attempts to get him over the years, they've always been in contact with his dad, in particular, the people around him, they have got a good they've got a good idea of what he needs financially. Obviously, that's taken a bit of negotiation, I suppose a bit of discussion in the last couple of weeks. But I mean, in terms of the sporting project that he always talks about, to be honest, quite often he speaks about leaving Barcelona, doesn't he?
Because the sporting project isn't real. They've not got a team to win the Champions League. And look, you could be watching it in Table City. I've got a team with the Champions League, evidently, but I think he does see himself in that team with Guardiola and see that as a good a good bet for the last couple of years of his career if he does leave.
Yeah. Financially. Well, it just mentioned. How does that affect him? Because like I said, he had a club that walked that financial fair play line pretty, pretty finely. And there's some chat this morning about players like Gabriel Jezus and Bernard, as well as some others that that may make way here to make it make it fair. Does that just as a very simple case, that they offload a bunch of players to make way for him and make it make it work that way under FFP?
Yeah, I could well be. I mean, I appreciate this is getting less and less, less and less of an acceptable thing to say. But earlier in the week when it was Tuesday, Wednesday, and it was all kicking off, I was able to say, look, I don't know how they're going to do it, but I know they're going to do it. If they get the opportunity, they will do it. Unfortunately. Now it's like, okay, we know we need to actually know how they are going to do it.
And yeah, those players, sailors, you know, swap deals with Barcelona and maybe they try and sell a player elsewhere that will probably come into it. I mean, I've been told a few weeks ago anyway, it was just before the FIA Cup semi-final. So whatever that was July, the city could spend up to 300 million this summer. I think that would always be offset by people going up with that. Could be the headline upcoming figure.
And now, obviously, with the messy situation developing, it seems like those kind of figures fit. So I don't know if that's if that's true. What I've heard and I've no reason to disbelieve it, that there may well be more space in the budget there than that is generally a. Now, the other side of the player sales, but inside of that is FFP obviously been relaxed in a way that it doesn't allow clubs to do whatever they want.
But basically the reporting period has been extended. So this summer and next summer, effectively the same. So there wouldn't be so much of a rush. I don't think it would be a gamble on his part. But I suppose because obviously they are desperate to get better. They always have been. And this is their chance. So they will do it. I suppose what they could do is commit the money, but then they would need to find a buyer for, for argument's sake, Gabrielle Jazy, Bernardo Silva in the next 12 months, sell them next summer because they do have the extra extra long reporting period to balance those books.
I'm not sure how much they'll have to get off the books wages wise. You know, there's a lot of talk of all our city sponsors would be willing to to pay more. Again, that's a normal part of football if you sign a superstar like that. But again, whether it be Manchester City, I'm sure a lot of people will roll their eyes or worse. It's a bit like the event, a situation when they signed Ronaldo and, you know, the the field workers went on strike because the holding company put money into Wynalda.
These kind of things are normal. There will be ways to to get those wages done in terms of getting the fee with Barcelona. Again, the big question is how much would Barcelona want some? How far are Manchester City willing to push this before they actually get categorical confirmation that Messi is free to make the move because this could end up in court? It's all coming down to whether the contract, which stipulates that he was supposed to let Balzano by the 10th of June, whether or not he wanted to stay for another year holds up or not due to the pandemic and the elongated nature of the season.
And there's a real Barsa connection of the club. What happened with Bexarotene? I mean, are they willing to engage in these talks at Messi and his representatives, get the deal over the line of the terms and the conditions sorted, and then I hope that they are eventually free and in a position to sign a well, I think that's already happened.
I think they have what they have had those conversations in the last couple of weeks. There's been meetings, internal meetings, the city where they've kind of worked out the financial viability of it. They've worked on what they can and can't do. They've decided they are in a position to to pursue this. And like I say, it was fine for me to say on Tuesday night when he was breaking that this is his position. Obviously, now we need to see exactly how far they're going to go.
But they are they are in that position. They are ready to do that. But, yeah, you're right. Is he gonna be able to leave on a free. Seems unlikely. Now, the consensus among Spanish lawyers seems to be that he's been badly advised to send up your facts and think they can leave on a free. But I do believe there is an element at city where they are willing to pay a reasonable amount. But then it comes down to why is that reasonable amount?
And I know I've given a lot of long rambling answers, but, you know, there's also a school of thought in Barcelona that to me, I would say, well, bottom, I actually want to be the president that oversees Messi leaving. He won't want to take the blame for that. But there's there's definitely a school of thought in Barcelona, and it's not based on nothing that he wants to consolidate his position, he effectively can't afford to leave and let somebody else come in and maybe look back over the last few years worth of, well, outgoings and incomings and all of that.
And that he actually wants and needs Messi off the books to keep them going and make them more financially viable because of the situation they're in. So if they say, well, OK, we can get his wages off the books and we can get 150, 200 million euros, it's it sounds quite unlikely. But this is you know, this is one of the schools of thought going around people who are close to the situation in Spain, closer than I am to the Barcelona winter things.
But, yeah, if you're asking about the point to which city will push it, if bosses say, well, we want the clothes or buses, everyone, 400 million even city, with all their desire and all their resources, I think they would have to say, look, we can't do that. But they are obviously confident to have got to this point. Massie's given them the encouragement that they need to pursue it. But to answer your question that you're last about ten minutes ago now, sorry if it comes down to how much Barsa had actually determined to get them out and if Baltimore does want to get him out, basically he's just trying to string them along.
If he can get two and million, I'm sure that he would find a way to to get as close as possible if the clause it's never going to happen. If they say it's 500 million, it's never going to happen. But city will take it as far as they can because they're not close to getting it. But there is then, I suppose, to get to Messi. But they was close as they ever have been.
Can we can we picture a hypothetical situation whereby Messi has signed Sergio Guerra was fully fit and in perfect condition, having had all this time to get himself ready. And the Gabriele Jesus in his mind sees himself as the de facto number one when it comes to the center forward at the club. And they're all there ready to go on the opening weekend of the new Premier League season. How do you see that that dynamic working? Because Jesus has been very public in discussing how he's changed his game under.
He knew he had to work harder. He has to lead the defense. He has to lead the press. And then suddenly both he and Acquaro obviously are going to be utterly sidelined by this hype show that will arrive in the in the guise of a 33 year old Lionel Messi. And I'm just wondering, will the whole dynamic of this Manchester City squad that is based on hard work and individual player development that will just be thrown completely out of kilter?
I mean, I suppose it's it's possible they would be thrown out of kilter. I mean, a lot of people have been asking, what about even those players? But what about Mahrez as be. But I still feel about Foden.
And I think I do think any player would want to play with Messi. And I do think that, look, if he affects the development of hard work, the press ID, I mean, Citi had a problem with their press in last season. In my opinion, I was a big reason why they didn't achieve their goals and was a reason why they conceded so many counterattacks. But at the same time, there was a lot of games where they could have papered over those cracks.
And I'm not saying this would make them a more stable team, but they might be better at papering over those cracks. If they've got somebody in Messi who's going to score 50 goals a season rather than Sterling and Jezus, who have done very well. But as we probably saw boiled down into one game in that Leone game, it better put those chances away. All the questions about his tactics would have been forgotten about. And if they've got Messi because it's such.
Such a dream of the owners, the club are willing to make it happen. It might not make them a more stable team in terms of pressing in terms of everybody singing from the same hymn sheet. But I think. On the balance of probabilities, if you put it all together, you've got all the negatives here, you've got messy. I think I just think it's always worth having messy. And I do think everything he would bring, unless he was a disaster, unless he didn't settle or as he got an injury or something, it would be worth doing.
And it's probably not the best, most sensible business decision you've ever made is probably a bit of a calculated risk. But if you going a bet on anybody, it would be messy in terms of the balance of the. You mentioned Gabrielle Jaysus.
If they do sell a player to balance the books, obviously there's been reports about Jesus and Bernardo Silva. Jesus seems to be the one that makes more sense to me because it's been 18 months now that I've been here. And there have been times where they've considered selling him anyway to upgrade him because they think he's a very good striker. But they need somebody who's a bit more clinical. And I don't think anything he did last season would have changed their minds.
And obviously, if you've got an opportunity to get a good feel for him and upgrade of your grade is Lionel Messi, then all of that comes together. So it might not be the case that Jesus is in the team at the same time as Messi. Or it might not be the case that he's there for longer than a year if other players are going to be upset by Messi being there. But some of them might miss out on game time, but still planning to bring in a new forward anyway.
The fact it's Messi kind of suggests it's really going to put noses out if they decide somebody of a lesser profile, Lazzara Martinez, for example, Shalal Felix, those guys probably would have been thinking, well, when I played and I know this guy is good, but what I planned. But there might be an element of plays Messi and it's it's an honor. I know it sounds a bit fun, boyish, but it would genuinely be an honor, surely, for any player to play with Messi for at least one season and then next year they can go and take stock.
But not a silver can say do not play enough. Am I happy? Is it worth it? Playing with Messi? They want to go there. They can go.
I don't I don't think it's going to be an issue, certainly for that first season if it were to happen. I just think that the positives outweigh the negative ten times over.
And he's like he's been that Barcelona the last twelve or thirteen years with the and bloody sizeable egos there, too, over the last ten minutes, managed to see most of them off like this might be totally stupid. Point to maximum. Please feel free to shout it out if that be the case in your view. But if. Is there a possibility this ends up being a bad deal for Manchester City? Like his influence and his character are pretty all encompassing the listening to it over the last week or so since all this sort of cropped up, like he's very intense, dominating.
I mean, I don't to say domineering, but it doesn't seem to be that far off it from everything you hear that's worked at Barcelona because he was the mainstay. He was the top dog at the club. He was at the peak of his powers. Maybe more importantly, none of that. And suddenly a lot of those things are not the case any longer.
Yeah, he is incredibly powerful. I think people would probably be surprised by the influence he's got. I Barcelona with Argentina as well. He is he is the main man. How that will translate at city, I'm not sure. I mean, maybe he would be the main man and maybe look, all the players, it's not they're not to sign him there. It's not like he decided anyone. Twenty million, which is a lot to go in right now.
If he were to walk into the dressing room, I'm sure he would be given concessions. And there's not a lot of not leadership, but there's not a lot of vocal leadership anyway. And he could be the focal point that they need. I mean, in terms of it being a bad deal, I'm going to say, no, stay off the bat. But I do know what you mean. I do certainly know what I mean. I do think there are potential downsides for sure.
Like I say, it's not it's probably not the most sensible, safe business decision you've ever made. They you know, they normally buy players. Twenty to twenty five years old. As the chairman said the other day, we say resale value. I guess they normally get them for that. Sixty million pounds. Normally for a buyout clause. It's all very safe. And as much as you can guarantee a player, certainly when they try to do that with Messi, it is more of a risk, obviously, because maybe it'll upset the apple cart.
Maybe, you know, him being the heartbeat of the team was upset. Gibraltar, who is the hobbit in the team? How would they work together? As you've already asked before, how would it work with Aguirre or Jaysus being sidelined or Bernardo Silva off your vote and progress? Where would he play with the press? He'd be as good. Look, there are loads of different reasons to think maybe he does work financially. I'm sure city wouldn't jeopardize the financial health of the club going forward.
But you could certainly speculate financially is a good decision for city. Look, I'm just reeled off about ten reasons there. What, you think it might not be the best idea. But like I said before, I do think I just think it's worth it. And I think that, look, everything is is very reanalysed now in football and the way we are very granular about football analysis in in England and in Ireland as well when it comes to the Premier League clubs in the way certainly the conversations around city, this will be analysed every time to kick the ball.
And look, if he does sign and they win the Champions League next year, I don't you're not going to have people celebrating from months this great. Oh, it's a great message the best player ever has played in England. And I think this team will win the Champions League. It's going to be Guardiola can't do it without Messi. Man said he needed Messi to do it on his money spent. But at the end of the day, it's football.
We should enjoy it. Nobody really talks about failure to win out a new anymore, which is Renaldo's at UVA, that's life. His personality is what it is. He's in there. And I just think it would be better to live in a world where Messi plays for well. Look, if it's mandatory or not, you could say it's Monday night or Liverpool or whoever. Bye. Would be better to play to be in a world, I think where this where this happens, where we get to see how it works out.
And I'm sure Manchester City are thinking, let's see how it goes. We're buying the best player in the world. There might be some downsides, but it's Lionel Messi. You know, they're not looking out the window for the next big thing because the next big thing might not work out with Messi. It's it's as safe as you can get in terms of the quality of that one player. So I do certainly know what you mean, but I'd say it's worth it.
And I would I would love to see it.
You imagine, Pat, there there's a bit of pressure on him already and that, you know, despite all the money they've spent and no manager gets more backing really by one or two across Europe, they've still finished eighteen points off the top of the Premier League standings and they've gone out in pretty limp style in the Champions League as well. I get to say, they should be beating 10 times out of ten.
It doesn't heat the pressure on him further that he has now got this player that he has won all of his Champions League titles, but as a manager, and that if it doesn't happen with Messi, then really question marks hang over Pat to the point where you would start to wonder whether he has a long term future at the club at all.
Yeah, but at the same time, it's all in terms of question marks about his long term future of the club. Unless they were a disaster this season, I don't think he'd be sacked anyway. Like I or I don't even think they would be willing to let him leave, maybe wouldn't agree a new contract. I'm sure the owners would give him a new one. But it's funny you say, you know, if he doesn't win it with Messi, you start to think.
I'll start to think. They start to think that if even if he does whatever Messi people like, he's not going to get that global credit anyway. You know, people always say he's only worried about it because of that. So is in that sense, he's in a no win situation. Goes back to the then. No, but the question really, does it power more pressure on him? I guess it does. You know, all those guys on the outside will be say, you know, to be fair, look, I'm not normally one of these guys to pile expectations on.
I'd say I'm covering or not covering. But I was saying already before that real possibility of Sinemet came about, if Citi signed four or five players with 200 million or more, you would I would be expecting them to get another hundred points next season and do much better in the Champions League and now with with Messi. If they were to get messy, then the pressure would unquestionably be there. Regardless of how good Liverpool were last season, you would be expecting City to do the lot with Messi and Guardiola.
And in that sense, there will be pressure. But I'm sure from Gladiolus point of view, obviously, he does feel the pressure going into games. He does feel that they are fair to to not lose control of the game. But I'm sure for him it's a fantastic opportunity. And genuinely, again, this may sound like I'm playing in a different light, but, you know, if if somebody offered you the the monthly job, if somebody offered me, I would be qualified to do it.
But it's like you're going to love Messi. I think there's a lot of pressure on me, but I'll give it go. Like Gladiola is obviously very, very qualified to do it. There might be pressure on the outside, but he's thinking, well, I needed the team. Well, you could say he's already got a team and I would say he has got a team they should get more out of, to be fair, in terms of the season's results.
But if he's thinking I need a team that can get some doctor, get a tune up, I need to keep the team fresh and go again for another two or three years, there's there's no better way of doing that, that Messi. So there'll be pressure on the outside, but I'm sure he'd be I suppose more pertinently, he'd be feeling rejuvenated. And a lot of city fans still want him to sign a new contract. A lot of city employees, the top employees want him to sign a new contract.
And the only way they were going to do that was to bring in players and show him that there's a long term project for him to stay for more than five years. And the best way to do that is Messi. So I'm sure he'll be thinking, yeah, I've got a team there ready to go. Everybody's rejuvenated by Messi coming in the market. Coulibaly as well. I don't know. They've got a couple of items already, and I don't think he'll be feeling about the pressure.
I think he'll be thinking about how can I get messy on this team and how can how can I get money back back to the top. But I think that's a challenge or relish rather than worry too much about the pressure, although maybe if it comes to a championship quarterfinal, he might be thinking, I really need to do this, but now I think he'll relish it.
Yeah, I do think that point about the everybody being reinvigorated by the arrival of Mass, including Guardiola, who the owners say this week that they expect everything to work out naturally as we wrap time. Is that your expectation that he you've touched on it there, but that he resigns now? He's got a year to run. He resigns and is in now for the long haul.
Messi are not as well. Messi or not? No, I'm not sure I do. I don't know how they're going to handle it, because obviously you probably remember when Pellegrini's last season, there was all the rumors about Pappan Pellegrin. He signed that new contract at the start of the season. But look, I think everybody knows now that there was never any intention to see that through. It was just done to stop the speculation. I do kind of wonder if they would get to the same stage.
If you take Meshach, the equation where Guadaloupe maybe signed a new contract this year, but I think he would only actually make that decision about. Whether we would honor it or whether we actually signed an extension midway through the season, depending on how the next few months go, depending on who they get in the transfer window, depending on how the season starts and the motivation of those players to go again. And I think if you looked at the squad and he thinks I can't really get to know many more five years, basically, I've taken them as far as I can.
You know, after five years, I think he would go. But if he looks and he looks around the dressing room and had fresh faces and there's, you know, fresh motivation and hunger, I think he would be like, well, OK, it's worth a go. And obviously, if you were to Messi into that, I'd be amazed if you walked away after a year. It matches under two or three year contract. I'll be amazed if he walks away after a year.
But no, I don't think it's decided yet. I'm not expecting him to stay. I think it's to be decided, depending on what happens in the next few months in terms of transfers and and performances at the start of the season.
For what it's worth, I expect I'll just wrap up by city being really exciting. Messi, he arrives at the Manchester Airport only to be met by only going to sell shirt and he's flipped over across the city.
And that's not before. I know.
You know, I do the transfers at the moment. So, yeah, it wouldn't be I wouldn't be surprised.
Or perhaps the Messi might do a robbery on Simon or I think and he's signing for Manchester City and ends up accidentally signing for Manchester United.
And he says, I didn't even know there was a Manchester.
Thanks a lot, guys. Sadly, of the athletics with the inside track, Manchester City OTB. And this is OTB Sports Radio. That was an OTB podcast, Network Presentations.