Barcelona great Rivaldo was surprised Manchester City did not make a move for Lionel Messi, who is preparing to make his Paris St Germain debut this weekend.
The 34-year-old came through the La Masia academy and established himself as the greatest ever player to grace the Nou Camp – and perhaps any pitch – during an incredible medal-laden period.
Messi will forever be synonymous with Barcelona but the club’s shocking financial situation led to the bombshell confirmation of his departure in early August.
The Argentina captain swiftly signed a two-year deal with the option of a further season at PSG, who he is expected to make his debut for in Sunday’s Ligue 1 clash at Reims.
Asked if he thought PSG was the right move for Messi, former Brazil international Rivaldo said: “Yes it is, especially in this moment of PSG.
“Great players and the enormous challenge of a Champions League for a club that has never conquered it, although I also think that a great club in England could have been an excellent decision too because of the challenge that the Premier League represents.”
Reigning Premier League champions City looked an obvious destination given their deep pockets, long-term admiration of the player and Messi’s previous relationship with Pep Guardiola.
“Yes, it is a surprise (they did not try to sign him) because of the potential that the club has, which, like PSG, brings together great stars and lives a great moment,” Rivaldo told the PA news agency.
“Also because of what Messi represents for Guardiola in his career as a coach, and reciprocally as well.
“But I do not know the main reasons for this decision, although I know that having hired a great player like (Jack) Grealish moments before could have been equally decisive.”
Grealish completed his eye-watering £100million move from Aston Villa, just hours after Barcelona announced Messi would not be staying at the club.
That news sent shockwaves around the footballing world and left Barca reeling, but Rivaldo is confident that Ronald Koeman will get the side going this season despite the difficult backdrop.
“With Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona, other players will have their opportunity to show that they can take on the responsibility of leading the team,” the Brazilian, who is hoping to soon move into management, said.
“Of course it will never be easy to go on without him, however I believe the group will unite to make a big response in 2021-22 and fight for the LaLiga and Champions League titles.”
While Messi will not be stepping out at the Etihad Stadium, Rivaldo will be as he takes part in Soccer Aid for UNICEF next month, helping to raise money to deliver two billion Covid-19 vaccines worldwide.
“It’s a great satisfaction and motivation, especially for the players that I will face once again after having coincided in several matches during my career,” he said of his first Soccer Aid appearance.
“In addition to how important it means to contribute to such a special cause.
“The fact that it is in England is a special motivation for the way in which the public responds in these games.”
:: Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2021 takes place on Saturday 4th September at the Etihad Stadium. Tickets are available at: www.socceraid.org.uk/tickets
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