EXCLUSIVE: Messi missed golden chance to test himself with Barcelona U-turn

Date published: Thursday 24th September 2020 9:59

Lionel Messi

Former England manager Glenn Hoddle believes Lionel Messi missed out on a glorious chance to test himself in the final years of his career after his move to Manchester City failed to materialise.

Messi asked to leave Barcelona and appeared to be close to finalising a deal to join City last month.

However, he pulled out of the deal as he didn’t want to get involved in a legal dispute with Barca as he attempted to leave the club on a free transfer.

Messi’s move to City may well be revived when he is out-of-contract next summer. And Tottenham legend Hoddle told TEAMtalk that the Argentine icon would have relished the challenge in the Premier League.

“I would love to have seen Messi coming to the Premier League because even at the age of 33, it would have been a big challenge for him,” stated Hoddle, speaking to us at a BT Sport event.

“The competitiveness of English football would have been a real test for him and I’d love to have seen it. When Barca play the lower leagues in Spain, it is easy for them, but he would have faced something very different in the Premier League. Go to West Brom, Fulham or wherever it might be, you need to perform.

“It’s the same with Gareth Bale at Tottenham. He scored loads of goals for Real Madrid, but some of them would have been against lesser opposition. But he will need to be at his fittest and best to shine week-in, week-out in the Premier League. That’s why the Spurs medical team face such a big challenge to get him up for full speed and playing at his best.”

Nothing tougher than the Premier League

The Spanish league is often hailed as the best technical league in European football. However, Hoddle suggests English football is the home of the most exciting competition in the game.

“You can debate whether the Premier League is the best league in the world. But it is certainly the toughest to compete in,” he added.

Klopp.Guardiola.Liverpool.Man_.City_.TEAMtalk

“Take out Liverpool and Man City, as they are in a league of their own at the moment, as from third place down to tenth, there is nothing between the teams.

“Wolves and Everton are very strong, look at what Sheffield United did last year. Leeds have come into the league and strengthened this league no end.

“This is as strong a Premier League as we have seen from top to bottom. I expect most of the teams to be dropping points right, left and centre. That’s why I think this will be the most fascinating league we have seen in a long time.

“You need to put in an eight out of ten performances to get results in this league every week. That is not the case in a lot of leagues around Europe.”

 

READ MORE: Lionel Messi’s former agent has revealed how close the Argentine star was to following Cesc Fabregas to Arsenal in 2003.

 

The BT Sport Monthly Pass lets you watch BT Sport for a simple monthly fee of £25 with no contract. Customers can watch all BT Sport Premier League fixtures for the next 30 days including Southampton vs Spurs from 11.30am on Sunday 20th September. For more info visit bt.com/monthlypass

 

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