The Argentine forward wants to leave Camp Nou this summer and he has been backed to make a big impact in the Premier League
Lionel Messi would be “the best in any league” and can shine if he moves to English football, according to former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave following a dreadful season at Camp Nou where they lost the Liga title to Real Madrid and were thrashed 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals. He is also unhappy with public comments made by president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the club’s failure to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.
As a result, several leading European clubs have been linked with a move for Messi, none more so than Premier League side Manchester City , managed by former Barca boss Pep Guardiola.
Some have questioned the logic behind the move, given that Messi is 33, has never played in a professional league outside of Spain and could cost as much as €700 million (£630m/$825m) to prise away from Barcelona because of the gargantuan release clause in his contract.
However, Pochettino thinks that, if Man City do sign Messi, he will be a success in England – or anywhere he ends up.
He told Ole : “Anything can happen. Messi will play wherever he wants; in Spain or the Premier League. He’s ready to be the best in any league.”
Pochettino has been out of work since leaving Spurs last year and being replaced by Jose Mourinho. He has been linked with the Barcelona job, both in January when Ernesto Valverde was sacked, and this summer following the dismissal of Quique Setien.
This is despite Pochettino – who previously played for and managed Espanyol, Barca’s local rivals – previously stating that he would never coach the Camp Nou club. “I would prefer to work on my farm in Argentina than go to work in certain places,” he said in 2018.
These comments surface whenever Pochettino is linked with the Barca role, although Pochettino has since admitted regret at making such a statement , indicating that should Barca change coaches again he would be open to the job.
However, he also admits that, given his previous comments and his close association with Espanyol, it might be impossible for him to ever become Barcelona head coach, regardless of his feelings towards the job and the club.
He said: “I think the statements made the fans reluctant to accept me, but at no time did I receive an offer to manage Barca.
“I was wrong in the way I conveyed that it would be impossible in the future to manage Barcelona. I exaggerated by not leaving an iota of doubt.
“It is clear that everyone who knows me knows that, from my past and a lot of things, it would be difficult to relate my name to the club. There are things that cannot be put together.”