Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are gunning for Liverpool, and Jürgen Klopp should welcome it

The legendary duo continue to be linked with moves away from Juventus and Barcelona, and with both Manchester clubs linked, it could work to Liverpool’s advantage

Lionel Messi at Manchester City scares me. I’ll be honest.

The Argentine has a strong claim to be the greatest player of all time. He is up there with the best marksmen, while also being one of the most inspired playmakers the game has ever seen. This season in La Liga, his ‘decline’ took the form of 30 goals and 11 assists. Why, then, would Liverpool possibly want to see him move to the newly-crowned Premier League champions?

For one thing, Messi is Barcelona. The team is built around him. The crop of young players coming through La Masia have no qualms playing second fiddle — the footage of everyone lining up to take a photo with Messi after the Copa del Rey victory revealed as much. Dropping him into a City team full of big names does not guarantee the same output. Similarly, the wages required to complete the signing would surely be astronomical: the risk of unsettling established players is a genuine one.

Equally, the age issue cannot be ignored. While not in any way diminishing Messi’s enduring greatness, he is 33 now. Nobody can go on at the highest level forever. This point applies with even more force to Cristiano Ronaldo, for whom a sensational Manchester United return has been rumoured. Although the 36-year-old continues to post impressive numbers, the biological clock is undoubtedly ticking.

In both cases, this season has shown that neither Messi nor Ronaldo remain at the level where they can single-handedly propel teams to glory. The pair finished 3rd and 4th in their respective leagues, failing to fully paper over the cracks in struggling Barcelona and Juventus sides. Even if City or United meet the eye-watering demands the two players are bound to attract, they will not be buying themselves a guarantee of success.

As such, Liverpool might not object to their rivals welcoming Messi and Ronaldo to Manchester. Significant outlays on players with limited time left at the top level reduces the likelihood of moves for some of the hottest prospects in the game: the likes of Kylian Mbappé, Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho. From FSG’s perspective, the thought of Mbappé leading City’s line for the best part of a decade is surely far more concerning than the prospect of an Indian summer for Messi.

Liverpool is a club where the long-term plan takes precedence, sometimes to a fault. The board were very reluctant to plump for a stop-gap centre back in January, and the somewhat mysterious departure of Gini Wijnaldum seems likely to be an age profile issue. For the most part, though, having a clear vision can only be a good thing. At 22, Ibrahima Konaté is able to instantly partner Virgil van Dijk while also providing an eventual succession plan. Other apparent targets fit a similar description. For instance, Red Bull Salzburg’s Patson Daka is also 22. He could initially understudy for Firmino, with an eye on ultimately claiming the spot. This is all business that can be conducted in an entirely different budgetary universe to the likes of Messi and Ronaldo.

If either of these two greats were to arrive in the Premier League, only a fool would write them off. That being said, with a hotbed of young talent on the market, Liverpool might not be too disappointed to see their rivals opt for short-termism.

Valeriy Fursov