Messi's Role At Barca To Change?
Lionel Messi's Role At FC Barcelona To Change?
Spanish giants FC Barcelona are said to be on the verge of signing one of Europe's most gifted attackers. Could this mean that the Catalan club's and LaLiga's all-time top goalscorer Lionel Messi's role at the club will be affected?
Under manager Ernesto Valverde, Barca have used the 4-4-2 formation for most of the season, with Messi partnering Luis Suarez up front.
Only on a couple of occasions has the manager tweaked his preferred system to accommodate new signing Ousmane Dembele, who has sometimes formed part of a three-man attack – a system the club's supporters are more accustomed to seeing.
Barca's reported interest in Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann has now got many people talking about how Valverde will set up with the Frenchman on their books, and whether or not it will mean that Messi will drop deeper. With age, the Argentine has naturally played most of his football in a more central position, as opposed to on the right side of attack where he caused eternal damage to many left backs.
It is a common assumption in Spain that the Albiceleste superstar will eventually move into midfield, where he could play an Andres Iniesta or Xavi Hernandez role, and to prolong his career, it might be best for him. Along with the goals he has scored, over the years Messi has shown incredible passing ability, and boasts an assists record that any playmaker in the world would be proud to have.
The Argentine has set up 248 goals since his breakthrough into Barca's senior side in 2005, and has the most assists in LaLiga history (173). If he did play in midfield, Messi would undoubtedly still contribute with goals of his own, but for him to venture forward, a tactical tweak might be required.
Many times this season, the Blaugrana have started LaLiga matches with four midfielders, but two of them played different roles to the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets, who holds his pivot position.
The other two players in the engine room, often Paulinho/Philippe Coutinho and Iniesta, would be allowed more freedom to get forward, and it is perhaps one of those roles Messi could play if Barca do sign Griezmann.
The Frenchman is typically a forward, but can play in deeper positions and wide, but the Catalan club will want to take advantage of his young legs, especially considering both Suarez and Messi are in their thirties.
It is, of course, possible that Valverde might want Griezmann to join Messi and Suarez in a forward trio, and use Dembele as an impact player. If that is the case, Coutinho then would likely take the place of Iniesta in that left-sided central role in midfield.
Whether or not it will be next season, the Catalan club's supporters can expect their superstar to gradually drift into a deeper role as the years go on. We already see Messi collect the ball in his own half at times.
Do you think that if Barca sign Griezmann, Messi will move into midfield? Let us know in the comments section below.