‘Man City need Messi to stop Liverpool’ – Reds favourites after Barcelona transfer saga, says Murphy

The former Anfield star believes Jurgen Klopp’s side are well placed to defend their crown after seeing title rivals denied a marquee signing

Manchester City needed to sign Lionel Messi in order to catch Liverpool, claims Danny Murphy, with the Reds considered to be title favourites again in 2020-21 after a stunning transfer saga in Barcelona.

At one stage it appeared as though a six-time Ballon d’Or winner could be added to the ranks at the Etihad Stadium.

Messi had aired his desire to leave Camp Nou, but has since revealed in a world exclusive interview with Goal that he will be sticking around in Catalunya for the 2020-21 campaign.

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Pep Guardiola has been able to bolster his ranks elsewhere in the current window, while Jurgen Klopp has been quiet at Anfield, but Murphy feels the defending champions remain the side to beat now that a mercurial Argentine has opted against pushing for a Premier League challenge.

The former Liverpool midfielder told the Daily Mail: “I think either Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola will be champions again in May but I believe the latest twist in Lionel Messi’s on-off move to Manchester City swings the advantage back to Anfield.

“As it stands, the evidence points to Liverpool. Everything about the team works, everyone understands their jobs from full-backs to up front. To use a car analogy, you know they’ll pass the MOT before going into the garage.

“Some will question the lack of transfer activity but I’m sure Klopp believes the old saying: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.

“The durability of front three Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino is phenomenal, a credit to them and the Liverpool sports science department. 

“Not enough cover? Well, they do have Divock Origi, Takuchi Minamino, Xherdan Shaqiri, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster. Klopp seems happy with that and he’s been right on almost everything else.

“The one big change being mooted is Thiago Alcantara coming in from Bayern Munich if Gini Wijnaldum leaves for Barcelona. But that wouldn’t weaken Liverpool. I wouldn’t be worried.

“For City to stop them, they need to sign Messi, but that looks unlikely after the Argentine’s statement on Friday evening, unless there is a major U-turn from Barca and they let him go for a reduced price.

“Messi at City could have been a total game-changer in the title race because he’s the best player that ever lived. City lost nine times last season but dominated most of them without taking their chances. 

“That wouldn’t have happened in a Messi team, he’d never be deprived of the ball in this City team, and would have found a way.

“It’s sad for Premier League fans we’ll have to wait to see Messi, if at all. But Liverpool fans will be delighted. I make them favourites now, even if the bookmakers disagree.”

A door could open to City again in January, when Messi will be free to discuss pre-contract terms with any suitors, but Liverpool will be hoping to have taken control of domestic matters by then – as they did during a dominant and record-breaking Premier League campaign in 2019-20.

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