Henk Ten Cate feels Chelsea-linked Lionel Messi should leave Barcelona

Lionel Messi Argentina

Ex-Barcelona and Chelsea coach Henk Ten Cate believes a record-breaking deal between his former employers for Lionel Messi would suit all parties.

There was a time not all that long ago when anyone suggesting that Lionel Messi could be lured away from Barcelona would be laughed out of town in a straightjacket.

Why would one of the world’s biggest football clubs be prepared to part with one of the finest players on the planet, and one that they helped to mould into the superstar he is today?

The unimaginable has, however, become feasible.

Talk of Messi becoming increasingly disillusioned with life at Camp Nou has grown in intensify, with the mercurial Argentine suddenly open the idea of taking on a new challenge elsewhere.

Life in Catalunya is all he has known during a glittering professional career – one which has delivered countless domestic, European and individual honours.

It could be that he is ready to embrace a fresh start, with Premier League superpowers Manchester City and Chelsea part an elite group of clubs that could finance a deal.

A £200 million move to Stamford Bridge has been mooted and a man who has spent time on the coaching staff at Chelsea and Barcelona believes an agreement would suit all parties.

Henk Ten Cate told De Telegraaf: "As far as I know, these problems all started about two years ago. Messi is only still at Barcelona because he promised it to Tito Vilanova at his deathbed.

"But I think a transfer would be in everybody's best interest. Lionel has been at Barcelona for quite a while and he needs a new challenge. He's still worth a lot of money now, but his value will only go down from here on.

"I really want to be supportive, because he has been on another level for 10 years, but I'm not sure he will get back to his best.

"It isn't normal to shine for 10 years like he has done. Most of the big names can only keep it up for seven or eight years. And to be honest, he wasn't at his best either last season, even if his statistics were still great."

Ten Cate, who was part of Frank Rijkaard’s backroom team when Messi made his Barcelona debut back in 2004 and later joined Avram Grant at Chelsea, makes a good point regarding the 27-year-old’s form and value.

Barca have been quick to play down the exit reports but will also be aware that they have a narrow window in which to maximise a possible sale.

It may be that they intend to keep Messi on their books for his entire career, but if the four-time Ballon d’Or winner starts to rock the boat then they will have little choice but to open negotiations and turn to others – such as Neymar and Luis Suarez – for inspiration.

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