With Barcelona in a financial crisis and star player Lionel Messi out of contract, it has been confirmed that Barca couldn’t afford to offer Messi a new deal and that the Argentine is now a free agent. You may have heard of it, I’m not sure.

Manchester City have been consistently linked to a Messi move in recent years, particularly when Pep Guardiola joined the club and again when his contract was slowly running out. And now City is being re-linked to the Argentine legend after FC Barcelona President Joan Laporta confirmed that Messi is leaving the club for financial reasons this summer.

Messi was on the verge of a move from Barcelona last season when he activated a clause in his contract that allowed him to unilaterally leave the club for an extra season.

* Click here to subscribe to Level Up! The esports and gaming show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and Spreaker *

After missing the final hurdle in the UEFA Champions League last season, Man City has yet to win Europe’s most coveted trophy for the coming season.

Messi has had a seismic impact while at Barcelona. Since his debut in 2004, he has scored 672 goals in 778 games, making him the all-time top scorer in La Liga and the second all-time top scorer in the Champions League.

Interestingly, Messi had his best season ever when Man City manager Pep Guardiola was in charge. In 2012, the Argentine scored 91 goals in a calendar year, breaking the 40-year record set by German striker Gerd Müller.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is undoubtedly one of the greatest footballers of all time. So we all want to know how he would do in the Premier League?

To make that happen, we simulated the next season with Messi at Manchester City, and that’s exactly what happened.

To set up this simulation, we used the editor of Football Manager 2021 to make sure the striker reconnects with Guardiola before the new season. We also added Jack Grealish to the roster after he was confirmed as a City player.

This is what Messi’s in-game profile looked like on July 1, 2021.

Lionel Messi’s in-game profile for Football Manager 2021 starting July 2021

Messi had an outstanding first campaign for Manchester City in the FM21 simulation

Messi was used as a forward / false nine rather than right winger throughout the season, and it was a treat for the virtual Guardiola as Messi carried his world-class form to England and took the league by storm.

The Argentine had an extremely impressive first season at Man City. Messi made 57 appearances in all competitions, scoring 34 goals and providing 10 assists in that time.

Despite turning 35, Messi was still at the highest level of his game, finishing the season not only as the Premier League top scorer but also as Player of the Season with an average rating of 8.12 in the PL and 8.14 in all competitions.

Messi was the league’s top scorer with 26 goals and Aston Villa’s new signing Danny Ings finished second, six goals behind.

At the end of the 2021/22 season, Football Manager 2021 put together an overall best Man City XI based on performance, stats and other metrics.

This is what the best Man City XI 2021/22 looked like, according to FM21.

Man City's best team of the 2021/22 season according to FM21

Man City’s best team of the 2021/22 season according to FM21

Full City Best XI: Ederson; Cancelo, Laporte, Dias, Zinchenko; Rodri, De Bruyne, Foden; Mahrez, Sterling, Messi.

Grealish had a good season for City as he scored 10 goals and 8 assists in his first season, but he was ousted from the top team by Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez, both of whom scored more than 24 goals each.

In our simulated season, how did the Citizens do in all competitions with Messi at the top?

Man City’s 2021/22 season results with Messi

Manchester City defended their title in the 2021/22 simulation on FM21

Manchester City defended their title in the 2021/22 simulation on FM21

As predicted, the inclusion of Messi alongside Grealish would only improve Guardiola’s side from last season and the Manchester side improved massively to defend their league title.

Messi’s 26 league goals helped City end the season on 98 points with a ridiculous goal difference of +71. That is 12 points more and a +20 better goal difference than in the championship title last season.

Could City win anything besides her sixth Premier League title?

Messi had a great single season in the Champions League when his nine goals helped City reach the final of the competition again.

The Argentine equalized in the 90th minute to lead the final against PSG to penalties but unfortunately Messi’s missed penalty proved costly when Les Parisiens won their first European title.

Messi couldn't bring the Champions League to Manchester City in the FM21 simulation

Messi couldn’t bring the Champions League to Manchester City in the FM21 simulation

There was an FA Cup win when City beat Chelsea 2-1, earning their second cup of the season penalties against League One Charlton Athletic.

Overall, Messi’s arrival at Etihad improved Man City as they retained the league title within a national double, but the wait for European success continued, even with arguably the greatest player of all time in their ranks.

Do you think City should join Messi this summer? Let us know in the comments below!

Continue reading
Continue reading