Messi would be a safe bet for domestic honors, but if PSG hope to end their long wait for European success then Ronaldo is the man for the job.
Lisbon was a sore sight to behold as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t make the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 14 years, the 2005/06 campaign to be exact.
Watching the pair fall in the knockout stages signaled the end of an era. Both can protest they weren’t responsible for Barcelona and Juventus’ exits, which is true. But about next season? And the seasons after that?
If the Champions League proved anything, it’s that changes are required for Barcelona and Juventus. Rebuilding their respective squads is one route back to the top of Europe, but may need time and patience. This is something Messi and Ronaldo are running short on now.
2005-06 – 2019-20 will be the first Champions League season since 2005-06 in which neither Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo will make an appearance in the semi-finals or beyond. Era. #UCL pic.twitter.com/896i7yPngG
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 14, 2020
These developments stirred up rumors of a summer move to Paris Saint-Germain, whose president Nasser Al-Khelaifi would welcome either of them with open arms and a big fat cheque.
The chances of uniting the pair in Paris would be nothing but a pipe dream. The coronavirus pandemic, on top of UEFA’s FFP rules, means PSG could only sign one. The question is who would serve them best?
PSG need a big-game player
Thomas Tuchel made it clear he would love Messi at PSG after Sunday’s Champions League final 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich, even though he conceded ‘Mr. Barcelona’ is unlikely to go anywhere.
🎙[SPORT] | This was Tuchel’s answer when he was asked about PSG signing Messi
🎙 Tuchel: “Which coach in the world would say no to Messi? He would be very welcome here.”
🎙Tuchel: “I believe he will finish his career at Barça – he is Barça.” pic.twitter.com/WOBZ0nceQn
— BarçaTimes (@BarcaTimes) August 24, 2020
The Argentine is unhappy at Camp Nou for several reasons from a trophyless campaign to an uneasy relationship with the club board. He’s allegedly considering an exit now. And with under a year left on his contract, Barcelona will have their work cut out to tie him down to another.
PSG would be one of very few clubs around the world, let alone Europe, capable of affording Messi. His presence would help maintain their domestic dominance in France, but what about winning a Champions League final? The simple answer is no.
The Parisians have dominated French football for almost a decade and won a quadruple last season. European success, however, continues to elude them. It’s clear they someone for the big occasions, which rules Messi out.
The €222m world-record capture of Neymar was supposed to be the answer. That, along with Kylian Mbappe and perhaps Angel Di Maria, gives PSG’s arguably the strongest attacking line-up in Europe.
After three seasons alongside each other, the trio fired PSG to their first-ever Champions League final last week. For the big moment on Sunday, however, they bottled it. All three forwards were wasteful in front of goal when the club needed them most.
Ronaldo is the only one
While Messi has his fair share of qualities, he struggles to turn it up for the big moments. We’ve seen it countless times for Barcelona and Argentina down the years.
Statistics from The Stats Zone pretty much sum it up, with Messi scoring a record 68 group-stage goals in the Champions League. He’s also bagged a record 27 in the last-16.
The goals, however, quickly dry up afterward through the quarter-finals (12), semi-finals (4), and the final itself (2).
His inability to help Barcelona after blowing three-goal aggregate leads against Roma (2017/18) and Liverpool (2018/19) in the semi-final’s of previous campaigns, along with the recent 8-2 hammering to Bayern in the quarter-finals, suggests Messi won’t be able to deliver in the key moments for PSG.
For this task, Ronaldo would be the better call.
The Portuguese ace thrives when the pressure is on to deliver at all costs. It doesn’t matter where or with whom; he delivers. His record 67 knockout goals in the Champions League justify it.
The Stats Zone statistics show Ronaldo has 63 group-stage goals, which is four less than Messi. Onto the knockout stages, however, it’s a different story as Cristiano’s numbers remain impressive in the last-16 (25), quarter-finals (25), semi-finals (13), and the final itself (4).
That, along with Ronaldo’s alleged desire to join them before COVID-19 pandemic, makes targeting him above Messi a simple decision for PSG.