Wednesday April 8 2020
Could Inter really sign Messi?

As links between Inter and Lionel Messi hot up again, Livio Caferoglu explains why there could be method to the madness...

When Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus in the summer of 2018, it appeared to signal the end of his decade-long rivalry with Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi. The pair not only vied for the biggest club prizes while also captaining their respective countries, but they also smashed through records and took it in turns to be crowned the world’s best player.

Since then, there have been several hints that the nemeses could revive their rivalry in Italy. First it was Ronaldo who called Messi to join him in Serie A, challenging him to leave Barca for pastures new. The 32-year-old followed up with the admission that he ‘wished’ the No 7 still played his football in Spain. That is where Inter could come in.

Massimo Moratti set aside €150m to sign Leo in the summer of 2006, when he was still just a teenager, but the Argentine rejected the transfer. However, the former Inter owner bears no bitterness and still harbours hopes of seeing Messi wear the Nerazzurri jersey one day, alluding to that in not one but two interviews over the past week.

“I don’t think it’s a forbidden dream at all. Messi is at the end of his contract and it would certainly be attempted. Knowing Steven Zhang’s courage, he will certainly have thought about it. After all, Messi’s contract is due to expire in 2021. It’d be wonderful, giving back some vitality to Serie A as a whole and more hope to Inter.”

Indeed, Messi’s contract expires next year and there have been signs that his relationship with Barca is beginning to strain. Earlier this year, the forward hit out at Blaugrana sporting director Eric Abidal after he suggested the players had downed tools for coach Ernesto Valverde, who was sacked in January following a poor run of form.

And only last month, Messi called out unnamed figures from ‘within the club’ who leaked to the press that his teammates did not want to take pay cuts for the remainder of the coronavirus pandemic. While his commitment to the Catalans’ cause appears unwavering, it is his rapport with Josep Maria Bartomeu and co. that could trigger an exit.

In turn, Barca are desperate to land Inter striker Lautaro Martinez. Despite his undoubted potential, Lautaro is not and never will be Messi and any opportunity of signing his countryman simply cannot be passed up, even if it means the Beneamata giving up their current No 10, along with his €111m release clause.

Of course, a move to the blue half of San Siro would allow him to go toe-to-toe with Ronaldo again and truly reassert Serie A’s status as a leading league on the world stage. And if Calciopoli didn’t stoke the fires between Juve and Inter enough, then two of football’s GOATs representing each side of the divide will.

That’s not to say, however, that the idea of Messi joining Inter isn't the stuff of make-believe. For a start, he is the world’s best-paid footballer - earning around €70m a season from Barca before tax - and it’ll take a lot more than a few disagreements with Bartomeu’s board to pry him away from the club that continues to provide for his every whim.

There is no disputing Suning Group’s financial clout, but there is its ability to remain sustainable at its current levels at a time when the global economy faces deep recession. That, coupled with a need to comply with Financial Fair Play, makes Moratti’s pipedream exactly what it is if the Nerazzurri were to splash out.

Despite that, Suning could benefit from the ‘Growth Decree’ – essentially Italy’s version of the ‘Beckham Law’ – which sees foreign arrivals liable to pay tax on only 50 percent of their salaries. That half of Messi’s hypothesised salary would be taxed at a rate of 43%, giving the Beneamata more leeway in their negotiations with the forward.

On balance, Inter seem to be the likeliest other European team Leo would consider, especially now they are set for another season of Champions League football, and he may be tempted to tap into his Italian lineage and turn out for a club known for its rich Argentine tradition before heading back home. In these trying times, it’s okay to dream.

Have your say...
...So if Messi was Italian he never would have made it in Italian football or Serie A under a defensive minded coach like Conte? This philosophy may explain why Conte's coaching methods have failed in the UCL at Juve, Chelsea & now Inter.... & why would Messi even consider such a move that would only serve to stifle his own career... it would be more a case of Messi saying No before Inter say No.
on the 11th April, 2020 at 11:42pm
They can try to sign him if they can i am sure they will win many Scudetto and Champions League and they will end Juventus Dominance. The only thing is he can't DEFEND so he will not suit CONTE style of football if they go to DEFENSIVE football.
on the 11th April, 2020 at 7:19pm
It seems by this discussion that only Inter would say no to Messi...are you guys nuts? Messi may not be long term however, think about the revenue he would generate for Inter. Also the experience and inspiration he would bring into the squad would be invaluable. If Conte and Inter can't make the most of a player of Messi's calibre then something is seriously wrong or maybe outdated in their philosophy. I'm not anti Inter just my observation as a neutral fan.
on the 11th April, 2020 at 12:50pm
on the 10th April, 2020 at 9:53pm
the short answer ... NO

maybe in 2004 but no longer...besides why would Messi want to come to Inter ?
he has made at Barca.
yes would be great if another of the greatest Argentine players came to serie A... and at Inter where theres a tradition of best players from Argentina. its 2020 he is past his peak and his golden allure has worn away by entertainment standards. his given the world more than nuff highlights.

...CR7 is a different beast tho.
on the 10th April, 2020 at 6:16pm
@DARIO messi can track back? are you seriously question this? or never watch barcelona played? the reason guardiola preferred him to play as false nine than zlatan because messi like to getting ball deep, unlike zlatan who played more as pure ST who need to be fished. everyone who watch La Liga know, messi is more active on defensive phase than ronaldo on RM, how can barca can recover the ball quickly if they lose its if their player is lazy to track back.
on the 10th April, 2020 at 1:46am
Question is, can Messi track back & defend? He`s not a Conte type of player :D

At this point I would rather keep Lautaro than sign Messi. I expect Barcelona to fail come up with 111m cash to buy him out of his contract this year. I expect Marotta to let Lautaro further grow and win something in this shirt before selling him, just like he did with Pogba.
on the 9th April, 2020 at 12:23pm
Messi would be a great catch for Inter, but if they want to become a serious contender, then Martinez has to stay

And would Messi play in Conte's system alongside Martinez and Lukaku? Unlikely

Then there's the problem of Messi coming in, Martinez leaving, and Messi being stuck up front with Lukaku. There's no way Messi is going to enjoy playing alongside him with his woeful touch. Messi and Martinez would be a great partnership, but Conte likes his target men

And Eriksen might need to go too
on the 9th April, 2020 at 10:44am
You could still get three good seasons from Messi (plus all the merchandising) The problem is that you would have to build the team around him and at his age that would not be worth it.
on the 9th April, 2020 at 6:46am
would absolutely love to see Messi in Serie A, but I'm not sure Conte would really want someone like Messi, or that someone like Messi would fit into Conte's tactics.
on the 8th April, 2020 at 6:57pm
For your second comment, I would rather not reply. Not because it was not a question, but because it`s simply stupid. Try improving your trolling next time, you should be able to perform better than this. FORZA INTER!
on the 8th April, 2020 at 2:35pm
Hi FIF user,

Messi would be nice [awesome would have been several years ago], but just like Interello mentioned, we have other priorities to address. Wing-backs that perform both phases of the game are essential for Conte`s tactics and we need proper starters there. LWB/LM: Robin Gosens / Marcos Alonso, while for the right side the options probably are Federico Chiesa / Juan Cuadrado / Alessandro Florenzi. Then add midfielder like Sergej Milinkovic-Savic/Tonali. Don`t you think?
on the 8th April, 2020 at 2:33pm
also why would messi join a club of a city that is regarded as a coronavirus hot spot
on the 8th April, 2020 at 1:37pm
Hi DAri0 from Romania,
Messi would be awesome right?
on the 8th April, 2020 at 1:35pm
I don't want Messi at Inter, not for the cost of the operation. For that we could bring in 2 important wingbacks, an experienced attacker to backup the front two, and a midfield like Tonali. Barca are so successful with Messi because they played as a team (especially the years of Xavi and Iniesta) and we mustn't focus on one player alone, he is world class but aging now. We do need to try and keep Lautaro also.
on the 8th April, 2020 at 1:32pm
You just have to ask yourself: why would Messi leave Barcelona? He is club legend like no other will be. Why would he join another club? I`m sure he does not hate Ronaldo so much to prove him wrong, does he? Wage is not a issue for Suning, as you can see in the players they are signing. Plus, bringing Messi would mean a lot of new sponsorship. Frankly, I don`t think Messi wants to leave Barcelona, he already does whatever he wants there.
on the 8th April, 2020 at 1:16pm

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