Lionel Messi dropped the mother of all bombshells on Tuesday night by informing Barcelona that he wants to leave the club, which has sparked speculation that he could complete a shock transfer to Manchester City.
Messi’s decision was made just 11 days after Barcelona’s humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals and comes after frustrations with the club president Josep Maria Bartomeu have reached boiling point.
The Argentine has asked the club’s hierarchy to accept a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for free at the end of the season. Even though the date for that clause to be activated has already passed, Messi’s camp believe the elongated nature of the season means they can still activate it to terminate his deal.
Barca are said to disagree with this view point and will only allow Messi to leave if his 700 million euro release clause is met, which leaves Messi’s future hanging in the balance.
City were immediately made favourites to sign Messi, which is hardly surprisingly considering the Pep Guardiola connection and the fact that the Blues have always seen themselves as one of the few clubs that would be able to tempt the player if he ever decided to leave Catalonia.
However, it remains to be seen if City will actually make the move as Guardiola has always insisted that Messi should finish his career at the Camp Nou and the club are concentrating on signing a new centre-back this summer.
If Messi did arrive at the Etihad, what number he wears would certainly be interesting as his fellow countryman and City legend Sergio Aguero currently holds his beloved No.10.
Here are the shirt numbers that would currently be available to Messi if he joins City (although we imagine he’d be able to have his pick of any number from 1 to 99!)…
There are three squad numbers available between 1-11, but it seems highly unlikely that a player of Messi’s attacking persuasion would take any of 3, 4 or 6, as they are usually reserved for defensive minded players.
The No.13 is also free but that also seems unlikely given the 33-year-old’s prestige, so the first number available Messi would likely take at City would be the No.15.
While Messi is synonymous with the 10 shirt, he did wear plenty of other numbers on his back before he ascended to be the world’s best player and 15 is one of them.
He wore the number as Argentine won a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics alongside City greats Aguero and Pablo Zabaleta.
The No.18 has been free since it was vacated by Fabian Delph in 2019 and it’s also a number that Messi has worn in the past.
When he first broke into the national side there was plenty of competition for the sacred 10 jersey, so Messi had to settle for the 18 for a couple of years before he made the shirt his own.
The number has also been worn by Frank Lampard and Gareth Barry for City in the past.
Perhaps the most likely number for Messi at City, if Aguero doesn’t give up the 10 shirt, is the No.19.
It was the number Messi wore on his back at Barcelona as he first began to really announce himself as one of the world’s best players before then taking on the number 10 following the departure of Ronaldinho. He’s also worn it for his country.
Leroy Sane’s departure this summer has freed up the jersey that has also been worn by Samir Nasri, Joleon Lescott, Gelson Fernandes and Albert Riera. So he would have a lot to live up to.
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The No.21 is available at City for the first time in nine years this summer following David Silva’s tearful goodbye from the club. Whoever takes the shirt next will have huge boots to fill but if there is one person who can, it’s Messi.
It’s not yet clear if the No.24 is available as it was the number assigned to Tosin Adarabioyo before he joined Blackburn Rovers on loan last season. There are reports he may be handed a new contract at City which would presumably see him retain that number.
But Messi was born on June 24 and the number could be another options for him should he join the club.https://c1593fb9f4862928b069001d8ebf377a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html138212091369
The No.30 was Messi’s first shirt number for Barcelona but since that is taken up by his compatriot Nicolas Otamendi, the 28 and 29 are his last options below the 30 mark.
Neither number holds much significance for him or the club and it’s difficult to see him taking either.