Lionel Messi: Making the case to bring him to MLS

MLS (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)
MLS (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images) /

Can the MLS entice Lionel Messi as a challenge?

Lionel Messi is arguably the best footballer to ever exist, from a gifted technical aspect at least. Whilst his never-fading, relentless rival, Cristiano Ronaldo, could also be considered to be the greatest of all time, they’ve won audiences over in different fashions.

Cristiano Ronaldo to me is what David Beckham was and still is. Global superstar, transcending sport alone and glamorously tip-toeing through a Hollywood type lifestyle, even miles away from Hollywood itself. Ronaldo, in my eyes, already half exists in the MLS.

Messi is different. He’s purer to the game. Maybe he doesn’t appear as capable of an underwear model as Cristiano? Maybe it’s just not for him. I don’t know Messi away from the pitch. All I know of Messi is him in Barcelona’s training wear, kit, or a skinny black suit to accept a universal football award.

Lionel Messi to MLS would be a dream scenario

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The level of purity is maybe what the MLS needs in its next superstar. Messi has been tipped and rumoured to be interested in David Beckham’s Inter Miami CF. A marriage admittedly made in heaven. You can’t tell me you can see Messi anywhere other than a team run by Beckham?

LA Galaxy? Predictable. When I eventually write about Project Ronaldo for the MLS, I’ll be centering it around LA Galaxy. See, this isn’t about joining the best team in the MLS for Messi.

I’m under no illusions that Messi would join Miami for their style of play or how they performed this season. It’s the potential for the ‘Messi show’ in a league where the one-man show itself is enough to dominate teams, win games and cups.

In Europe, Lionel Messi has humiliated every form of low block defence. Every park the bus team. He’s annihilated pacey, strong English teams. He’s torn German ‘well-drilled’ sides apart. He’s made a mockery of slow passing, overloaded defensive Italian sides. He’s walked through every team in Spain for almost 15 years. There is not a team in the United States or Canada that could even get close to stopping him.

The MLS is not a defensive league. It can’t be. You can’t dominate sports headlines with a 0-0 in New York City, all whilst the Knicks were getting blown-out by the San Antonio Spurs in a regular-season NBA game, for example. The U.S is home to high scoring sports. And whilst defence is huge in the NFL and College Football, it’s still a completely different beast to watching a 0-0 play out in the MLS.

This leads to attacking formations that do slightly mirror what a number of German Bundesliga teams set out with every weekend, but also without the defensive capabilities to balance the team.

Long story short; the Lionel Messi dream scenario. A player that’s near impossible to tackle without giving away a foul. A player who’s able to walk through defences with the ball as if he’s not even visible. Without the ball, his movement and vision to pop up in the right places is astonishing and sometimes goes unnoticed unless you watch him live.

He may be slowing down ever so slightly these days, however, what does that truly mean when the only player close to you is still Cristiano Ronaldo. Slowing down in these terms, simply means he’s almost unplayable every week rather than completely unplayable every week?

I could wax lyrically about Messi for a lot longer. I’m sure you’re becoming more concerned about the reality of him joining an MLS side.

Here’s the thing, no Journalist or Pundit on this Earth of ours could truly call it. He hadn’t had a scandal of any sort until this Summer where he was vocal about wanting to leave Barca. He’s the definition of a poker face.

Some people pin him going to Manchester City due to Pep Guardiola. That’s a great possibility. Some call him returning to Argentina. Potentially. I feel the MLS is on the cards sooner rather than later. But it’s all aimless guesswork.

Bleacher Report has an article about how Messi had hinted at playing for Beckham’s side. And had congratulated the former England captain when the Inter Miami CF franchise was announced, as well as dropping a comment about playing for them in a few years.

So, therefore, I’ll base my whole Project Messi around these tweets and interactions too. I’d be overjoyed to see him at any MLS side, over a Manchester City. His arrival in the MLS would probably sound the alarms for his Portuguese foe, Ronaldo, to follow suit.

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It would shift football in The U.S immensely. Defensive coaches would become way more fashionable amongst MLS clubs. We would see teams trying to mirror a prime AC Milan for example. Defensive capabilities, but with attacking flair. A balance that like I previously mentioned still hasn’t been found in The U.S.