Mikel Arteta would love to see Lionel Messi move to the Premier League should he depart Barcelona – even if the Argentine attacker ended up at a rival club to Arsenal.
Messi shook the world of football on Tuesday evening when he informed Barcelona, where he has spent his entire senior professional career, that he wants to leave Camp Nou.
The 33-year-old is unhappy after Barcelona ended the 2019-20 season trophyless, losing the Liga title to Real Madrid and being thrashed 8-2 in the Champions League quarter-finals by Bayern Munich.
This has led to widespread speculation as to which clubs can make bids for Messi, with Premier League clubs Manchester United and Manchester City among the few sides who could afford the superstar’s wages, even if he were to cancel his contract at Barca and leave on a free transfer.
Arteta, who came through Barcelona’s La Masia academy and confesses to still being a fan of the Spanish side, would welcome Messi moving to the Premier League, saying it would be good for the competition.
Speaking at a press conference, the Gunners boss said: ‘He’s been linked everywhere. He has more clubs than any other player in history after him.
‘I’ve been a Barcelona fan since I was young so it’s always sad to see what in my opinion has been the best player in football history leave that football club, but, I don’t know, let’s see what happens and if he comes to England, we are all going to enjoy it.
Asked about whether he would enjoy Messi being in English football if he had to face him with Arsenal in the Premier League, Arteta said: “It doesn’t matter, it’s good for football. If it’s not there we might find him in the Champions League. You want the best players in your league. For me, that is the best thing as an athlete, to have the most competitive league in the world.
‘The Premier League always had that. With Ronaldo, I played against him when he was great, it raises the level of every individual and every team as well.’
According to reports, Messi’s intention is to give his version of events in the coming days, with a desire on his part to send a message to Barcelona fans that remain fiercely loyal to him.
He has been vocal about a range of problems at Barcelona this season, including the presidency of Josep Maria Bartomeu, the sacking of manager Ernesto Valverde and his replacement Quique Setien, and criticism from dismissed sporting director Eric Abidal.
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