Ah the January transfer window; a period of mass exaggeration, media hyperbole and ridiculous rumours, culminating in an extremely loud matinee performance from everybody’s favourite presenter, Jim White. What’s not to like?
While shorter than its summer incarnation, the January transfer window seems to generate even more transfer hysteria amongst the majority of football fans, mainly due to the pre-season hope of their team disappearing more quickly than Wayne Rooney’s weave.
The need for improvement fuels a panic for fresh blood at clubs the length and breadth of the country. Suddenly, players that were signed under similar circumstances six months ago no longer cut it, and must be replaced with ‘the next/current big thing’.
The latest story oiling the cogs of the revitalised rumour mill is that former Ballon D’or winner Lionel Messi is set to swap sunny Spain for Chelsea, in a deal reportedly worth 200m Euros.
But is there any truth in the story? Or is it simply a ‘paper-shifter’ of epic proportions.
Rumours are rife that Messi is unhappy at Barcelona, particularly with the stewardship of former Nou Camp idol Luis Enrique. Spanish newspaper Marca even included Messi on their front cover under the headline ‘Barca Falls Apart’, though the story mainly alludes to the departures of sporting director Andoni Zubizaretta and his assistant, former Barca captain Carles Puyol.
Both Messi and Neymar were left on the bench for the surprise defeat to David Moyes’ Real Sociedad, fuelling speculation that his relationship with Enrique is fractured.
Suggestions that Messi is unhappy at Barcelona are nothing new. In 2013, during his trial for tax evasion, it was reported that Messi was disappointed with the lack of public support shown by the Catalan club’s hierarchy, though presumably they still bought him a birthday cake.
Messi recently missed an open training session with a ‘stomach upset’ and has since had to apologise to fans using social media. Speaking of which, he has also recently started following Chelsea on Instagram, as well as former teammate Cesc Fabregas. Nice timing Leo.
Being unhappy is one thing, but just how feasible is it that Messi will actually leave Barcelona?
Bookmakers are currently offering 2/1 for Messi to be a Chelsea player if he does decide to leave Catalunia, though the same bookmakers also offered 1/12 for Arturo Vidal to join Manchester United in summer.
The transfer fee and the Argentine’s wages wouldn’t be a problem for super-rich Chelsea, but the transfer could fall foul of FFP rules.
Mourinho and Messi haven’t exactly been the closest of allies over the years due mainly to Barcelona’s huge rivalry with Mourinho’s Real Madrid, but the current Chelsea manager also prompted an angry Cesc Fabregas (then of Barcelona) to order him to ‘shut up’ last season, and look how that turned out.
The biggest obstacle of course would be Barcelona’s reluctance to sell. Who would be brought in to replace one of the world’s best players? Add to this the fact that the Spanish giants have been banned from recruiting any new stars until 2016, and it certainly pours water on the chance of a deal being agreed in the near future.
Do I think Messi will join Chelsea? Of course not. Personally, I think there’s more chance of Fabio Borini winning the Golden Boot.
Messi may be unhappy, and if so is probably pushing Barcelona’s buttons in a show of defiance. He may also be ready to negotiate a bumper new contract, and has been taking note of Cristiano Ronaldo’s flirtations with Manchester United last year.
One thing’s for sure; if Messi does decide to join Chelsea, he might want to have a quick word with Eden Hazard’s shin pads first.