Lionel Messi to Man City: How Pep Guardiola's men could line up for 2020/21 season

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Manchester City seem to be the leading contenders to sign Lionel Messi.

The Barcelona superstar shocked the sporting world on Tuesday night when he filed a transfer request by fax, hoping to end his astonishing 19-year collaboration with the club this summer.

There are still some legal complications to thrash out that could decide whether Messi leaves Camp Nou this summer or the next, but it seems inevitable that he is waving goodbye to Barcelona.

Messi linked with Man City

So, who is best equipped to sign him? Well, it should come as no surprise that City are featuring so highly on every list when you consider their brand of football and a certain Pep Guardiola.

You don't need to be a world-class tactician to notice that a passing style suits Messi the best and it's unquestionable that the 33-year-old thrived when he last collaborated with Guardiola.

Combine that with the fact Messi could fancy a new challenge in the Premier League as well as City's incredible wealth to make the deal happen and it looks to be a recipe for success.

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How would Man City line up?

However, accommodating one of the greatest sportspeople of all time into your squad is no easy task and Guardiola would have to play around with his tactical board a lot before he gets it spot on.

And while nobody can truly get into the mind of Guardiola ahead of time, assuming he does get his hands on Messi, The Sun have tried to map out City's potential tactics for next season.

They've drawn up the XI that they predict the Citizens will deploy to try and rip the Premier League title back from Liverpool, featuring both Messi and another potential summer signing.

You can check out the full line-up down below, as well as our verdict on each decision, to get an idea of what Messi moving to the Etihad Stadium would actually look like:

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GK - Ederson

There's no need for a change between the sticks for City because, give or take the costly error against Lyon, Ederson is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and arguably its most reliable.

RB - Kyle Walker

It's been a rocky season for Walker, both on and off the pitch, but the ex-Tottenham man is still one of the Premier League's finest defenders on his day and deserving of his place in the starting XI.

CB - Kalidou Koulibaly

It's easy to feel numb when Koulibaly is linked with a Premier League move because, well, it seems to happen every single summer, but rumblings of the Napoli man leaving are louder than ever.

Reports in Italy have even gone as far as claiming that the Citizens have agreed a £69 million fee for the Senegal international and it could be the key for City to usurp Liverpool in 2020/21.

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CB - Aymeric Laporte

If there's any doubting Laporte's importance to Guardiola's men, then you only need to look at how much they missed him in 2019/20 when injury ruled him out for most of the campaign.

Laporte could be absolutely unstoppable with a capable centre-back partner like Koulibaly beside him after months of chopping, changing and Fernandinho filling in.

LB - Nathan Ake

The jury is out on City's acquisition of Ake until the recently-relegated defender proves himself at the top, but the former Chelsea man is worth a shout at left-back after Benjamin Mendy's patchy form.

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CM - Rodri

We'd be lying if we said Rodri set the world alight during his first season in England, but he's given us enough reason to think that, with time, he will be the long-term successor for Fernandinho that City need.

CM - Phil Foden

Credit to The Sun for this choice because we join them in thinking that Foden's time to become a regular starter at City is nigh, especially having impressed with eight goals in 28 games in 2019/20.

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CAM - Kevin De Bruyne

Look, unless you hop in a time machine and put Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Andrea Pirlo on the transfer market, we don't see a way that Guardiola could possibly bag a better midfielder than KDB.

RW - Lionel Messi

Interesting. There's about ten million positions Messi could be played in for City and he would do a fantastic job in each of them, but The Sun have chosen to roll back the years and play him out wide.

Ordinarily, you'd want to play Messi centrally as he transitions into more of a playmaker - he did exceed 20 assists this season, after all - but City happen to already have the only passer in the world better than him.

So, as long as Messi was drifting inside as opposed to being stapled to the right touchline, I'm sure Guardiola would be able to reap the benefits from this approach.

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ST - Sergio Aguero

You'd think that Aguero would be slowing down at 32-years-old, but the City legend has given us little in the way of evidence that he should be dropped, notching another 23 goals for his incredible record this season.

LW - Raheem Sterling

But one man who scored even more goals than Aguero this season is the mercurial City man who notched a staggering 31 strikes in 2019/20 and is an absolute no-brainer in Guardiola's starting XI.

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GIVEMESPORT's Kobe Tong says

Yeh, sorry, Liverpool fans, but I can't see a world in which you win the league if Messi signs.

I had already predicted that City will regain their title in 2020/21 before they were linked to Messi, so I couldn't change my forecast with a straight face if they happen to sign the greatest player in history.

I can't see Messi producing the sort of numbers he has with Barcelona in the Premier League, but I would still expect him to exceed 20 goals just like Aguero and Sterling next to him.

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If nothing else, that would allow the Citizens to outscore Liverpool's top three and if they do indeed sign Koulibaly at the other end of the pitch, their defence will be looking far sturdier after their 2019/20 woes.

But let's not get ourselves quite yet because signing Messi, just like stopping him, won't be easy.

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