How can Man City lineup in the coming season after the rumoured signing of Lionel Messi?

Lionel Messi sent the whole footballing world into frenzy after sources suggested that he has informed the board of the FC Barcelona that he will be leaving the club after two decades of association.

As expected, the rumour mill started and one clean favourite has emerged, Pep Guardiola's Manchester City.
Although, it will be heartbreaking to see his marriage with Barcelona come to a bitter end, the prospect of seeing him in Premier League under Pep Guardiola will be welcomed by many football fans.

The financial aspect of signing arguably the greatest player of all time from Barcelona will be an enormous task for the City’s board but Pep will also face a similar level of challenge of fitting a 33 year old Leo Messi in his pressing heavy side in a league that usually runs at a faster pace than La liga.

We look below the possible line-ups of Manchester City in the coming season if they pulled off one of the greatest transfer ever;

One of the starting glimpses of Guardiola’s tinkering with his tactics before a big match was witnessed when Pep decided to play his young, fast, Right winger dribbler in Messi as a deep play making striker (False 9) before a highly anticipated El Clasico of 2008–09 season away from home.

Barcelona won by scoring 6 goals with Messi pulling the strings and arriving late in the box for attacks playing deeper behind Eto’o & Henry, who were deployed at wings.

In 2020, Messi might rejoin Pep and we can again see him utilising Messi’s playmaking skills (which are far superior from 08–09) by deploying him as false 9 behind Sterling at Left wing and either one of Mahrez/Bernardo Silva or Ferran Torres at Right Wing.

As the career of Leo Messi has evolved over the years, he has been more calculated over his off the ball movement and pressing in order to play every possible minute of every possible match. Being at false 9, Messi can have less pressing responsibilities with City’s hard working wingers and midfielders.

After David Silva’s retirement, we can expect Phil Foden to be an integral member of City’s mid and his pressing abilities will be welcomed by Messi.

Rest of the Line-up sets up easily with new signing Aké slotting with Laporté at the back. Whether Man City will sign another Center back or left back is up for discussion, we can fairly assume, they will be left with little to play-with after financing Messi’s deal.

Aguero and Messi Bromance has been pretty evident throughout their careers, the duo came up with the national team together by winning the Olympic Gold in 2008 and reportedly has been room partners in every national camp since. Messi’s Manchester City links in recent seasons has always stem from his close friendship with Aguero and finally, in this weird year of 2020, we might actually witness them together at club level.

A strike force of Aguero and Messi supported by City’s midfield lead by Kevin De Bruyne will be an unstoppable force which can even afford occasional open misses from Raheem Sterling. The real challenge of this lineup for Pep Guardiola will be to manage the defensive gaps of right side which can be easily exploited by Top Premier League teams like United, Liverpool and Chelsea which are strong coming from their left. Aguero and Messi, being in their 30s, will also press less as compared to Jesus or Mahrez which should enable sides against city to build from the back which should be a concern for Pep against bigger sides.

We can see Pep trying out this formation against lower opposition in the league and FA Cup.

Messi who might leave Barcelona after five back to back disappointing UCL campaigns, will be leaving an attack heavy side for another attack heavy side in Manchester City. While Barcelona, arguably, haven’t seen a world class manager in the dugout since Guardiola himself left in 2012, the prospect of Messi adding into an attack which scored the most goals in top 5 leagues will be enticing to say the least.

In the latter stages of the last season, we saw pep trying to accomodate Walker as the right center back in a back three to provide more cover for Ederson and Laporté. Although, the success of that tactic is up for debate but it provided us with another possible line-up that Pep might try next season and should be the most entertaining.

A back three of Laporté, Aké and Walker will provide pace and composure at the back where all three being capable of passing through the lines from the back.

Mendy, although being a suspect at defending, has always been a threating full back going forward. We can expect Mendy to bombard defences from left overlapping Sterling and wrecking havoc. Mendy had small stints at Left wing back in previous seasons where he was competing with Sané, of all players, for that position while struggling for fitness. Alternatively, Zinchenko should also be an able deputy at the Left wing back, should Mendy’s fitness issue persist.

Pep might try Cancelo at Right Wing back for cover but a more exciting option would be to go for the new signing Ferran Torres, who exploded at Valencia for his pace and attacking ability from the wide places.

Torres, still 20, has room for improvement and Pep has always shown throughout his career to use players out of their natural position and excelling (Messi,Toure,Villa, Lahm, Kimmich, Zinchenko among the many).

While Ferran overlapping Messi from the right will surely be entertaining, playing Jesus instead of Aguero should be a sensible decision to balance out the defensive work rate in the attack.

The only thing that is more difficult to predict than Messi’s future is predicting Pep Guardiola’s next Manchester City’s lineup and we can not rule out seeing Messi in an all new position himself upon his arrival at Eithad.

All said and done, the only thing that will be guaranteed if Messi joins the blue half of Manchester is FUN.

Twitter: @khurram_areeb