On the surface, a move to Manchester City actually makes perfect sense for Lionel Messi.

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It was Pep Guardiola who transformed him from a precocious young talent into arguably the best player the game has ever seen, and a reunion of that partnership is mouth-watering.

That Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, the two executives at the heart of the treble-winning Barca team of 2009 coached by Guardiola and starring Messi, are also at City offers an enticing reunion at boardroom level, managerial level and on the pitch of the key elements of one of the best teams ever seen.

Having beaten UEFA in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, they will feel sufficiently emboldened to provide him with an extraordinary pay package and there can be no doubt that Messi would help City close the enormous gap that opened up between them and Liverpool last term.

Furthermore, City and Messi are united by a shared goal: to win the Champions League. For City's Emirati owners, it would be the ultimate vindication of their colossal investment to claim the biggest prize in club football.

For Messi, he has not been crowned a European champion since 2015. He has won it four times, one time fewer than his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo. It is Barcelona's slide away from contention that has prompted his desire to leave Camp Nou.

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But it is in the Champions League that you begin to see the colossal mismatch between the status of Manchester City and the status of Lionel Messi.

When City made their debut in the competition in 2011, Messi was the defending champion for the third time in his career. Since then, City have played 79 matches in the competition, just over half of Messi's personal tally of 143.

Messi has 115 goals in the competition, a figure which dwarves the 94 scored by City's top six scorers in the competition combined, Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Gabriel Jesus, David Silva, Yaya Toure and Kevin De Bruyne.

And only once in Barca's long wait for another European title have City actually outperformed the Catalans, as long ago as 2015-16. This is the crucial issue of City being a problematic destination for Messi if he wants greater success.

Since he left Barcelona, Pep Guardiola's record in Europe has been sadly lacking and that is simply his own fault.

He inherited an impeccably dominant Bayern Munich side who were defending champions in the competition and were looking to build a dynasty, but never got further than the semi-finals, receiving some humiliating defeats on the way as tactical gambles failed.

At City this pattern has continued. Guardiola has not been eliminated by Europe's finest year after year, but by teams such as Tottenham, Lyon and Monaco who they should have been putting away. Again, the blame lies with Guardiola, who has unnecessarily tinkered time and time again.

A move to City would therefore far from offer Messi the guarantee of European success he craves. But beyond the sporting level, it would be a shame to see such a great player represent a club with so little pedigree.

When Messi inherited the No 10 shirt at Barca, he was walking in the footsteps of Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Romario and Diego Maradona, at City that jersey has been worn by Antoine Sibierski and Garry Flitcroft.
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