How Lionel Messi really feels about Barcelona’s transfer plans this summer
That’s according to Spanish football expert Graham Hunter, who believes Barca will ignore the Argentinian’s wishes and go ahead with a deal for Griezmann.
The Atletico forward, 28, has been linked with a move to the Nou Camp for many a year and he finally looks set to make the switch this summer.
Hunter has no doubt that ‘in Messi’s ideal world’ he would love to reunite Barca’s previously deadly front three consisting of Neymar, Luis Suarez and himself, but he can’t see it happening.
“I don’t have any doubt whatsoever that in Messi’s ideal world, Neymar, Suarez and he will be reunited at Barcelona upfront because they remain personal friends, it was a system that worked,” he said on The Transfer Window podcast.
“All the doubts about Neymar’s behaviour, his character, his current situation, his cost, his age, his level of application – but as far as Messi’s concerned, that would be the thing to do.
“I don’t think it’s going to happen, I think Griezmann will happen.
“I don’t believe in re-buying the past, I think that’s a hard jigsaw puzzle to put together.”
Hunter’s comments came after it was claimed:
He continued: “And nobody must ignore the fact that, albeit Suarez is on rock-solid ground because he has had another brilliant season, that it’s impossible to misunderstand the theory of Griezmann a year ago, which was to pre-prepare, to do the opposite of what Barcelona did with [Ousmane] Dembele or [Philippe] Coutinho when Neymar left, which was to find themselves underprepared, to find them overspending, to find themselves in a rush, to find themselves Captain Mainwaring into embarrassing decisions for players who have cost them too much and who for various reasons haven’t fully performed yet.
“Therefore, one – Griezmann has been strategic and planned. I find it understandable that last season, with an enormous outpouring of need from the club and the fans and the move to a new stadium and the idea of trying to win Atleti their much-cherished Champions League in their own stadium, playing through a brilliant Europa League finale having been pumped in last season’s Champions League and scoring twice.
“All these kind of things I fully understand, but Griezmann was the right idea a year ago and remains the right idea now.
“And therefore if you’re talking about that concept, and clearly that idea appeals to certain people within Barcelona, beyond Messi I’m talking about, and Neymar is obviously a marketing phenomenon, the truth is that when they played together we can’t ignore that Suarez was at least four years younger, five years younger.
“We can’t ignore that if you repatriate the trio upfront, I don’t think it’s long before Suarez, a guy who hasn’t scored an away Champions League goal for three years, is moving on. So your three is immediately cut back again, decimated by a third.
“And I’d also say that when Neymar was at his very best at Barcelona, he agreed to play in off the left wing but he certainly started wide. He didn’t play in his preferred position. He wasn’t given the freedom that he is now with for country and club.
“Messi now plays very much in areas where if Neymar were to continue playing positionally and stylistically like he has at Paris St-Germain, the effect would be wholly different.