DANNY MURPHY: No Messi, no Premier League title for City

DANNY MURPHY: No Lionel Messi, no Premier League title! The Argentine star’s U-turn on a move to Manchester City will swing the advantage back in Liverpool’s favour

  • Liverpool and Manchester City will enter the new season as hot favourites again 
  • Jurgen Klopp’s side will be boosted by the news of Lionel Messi staying in Spain
  • Messi would have made the difference for City and put them above all others 
  • Chelsea have shown intent in the market while Tottenham are clearly budgeting 

We are witnessing one of the great Premier League rivalries between Liverpool and Manchester City and I can’t wait for the next instalment once the new season begins next weekend.

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 Liverpool’s. 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.

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola will go head to head once again as the new season begins

Every man in Klopp’s Liverpool knows their role and it’s hard to see past them as champions

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.

Lionel Messi staying at Barcelona is bad news for Man City in the Premier League title race

As a young player, seeing new signings fired me up. But as I matured, I saw the sense in stability. 

Our Fulham side reached the Europa League final because the line-up was settled and every player fitted. It’s like that at Liverpool with great individual talent as well.

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.

Thiago Alcantara looks to have his heart set on a move to Liverpool this summer


CHAMPIONS – Liverpool

TOP FOUR – Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, Man Utd



SIGNING TO WATCH – Kai Havertz to Chelsea. Great left foot

I FEAR FOR – Tottenham, not as good a team as they had three years ago

NEED TO STRENGTHEN – Aston Villa, because survival is not enough for club their size

You have to go back to 1984 for the last time Liverpool retained the league title. 

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.

He could have played anywhere along the front three or even in David Silva’s old position. Opponents would have instinctively dropped off out of fear and invariably been taken apart.

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.

City will be closer next season and have brought in Ferran Torres who looks a great prospect and Nathan Ake, whose presence may allow Fernandinho to return to midfield. 

But 18 points is a big margin to make up against a Liverpool team who have had a longer break to recharge. City need another central defender in my opinion.

Outside the top two, there have been some exciting signings.

Chelsea’s recruitment of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and Thiago Silva is a real statement of intent even before Friday’s confirmation of £75million German international midfielder Kai Havertz.

Thiago is probably the most clever business. He showed at PSG he is a leader, a winner, exactly what Chelsea were missing. He’ll be great for young goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga who needs that experience in front of him.

Thiago Silva has arrived at Chelsea to provide defensive talents and big game experience

A new backline Chelsea back line of Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Silva and Chilwell has real pedigree and Premier League know-how.

FA Cup and Community Shield winners Arsenal have been transformed under Mikel Arteta and have added Willian and centre-back Gabriel Maghaeles to the outstanding youngsters they’ve got, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang likely to stay.

They could challenge Manchester United for a top four place though United still have a slight edge.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has signed a very good player in Donny van de Beek from Ajax though he’s not the holding midfielder I thought they needed.

If he sent out an attacking midfield of Bruno Fernandes, Pogba and van de Beek against a team like Manchester City, United would lose. I assume therefore van de Beek may be seen as a longer-term replacement for Pogba.

We are also still waiting to see if United break the bank for Jadon Sancho. He’d make them better but to spend £100million is a big call when they already have firepower up front and I’d consider a centre-half a bigger priority.

Poor Tottenham must be envious at all the top names being bandied about. Jose Mourinho has signed Matt Doherty and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, both fine players but wouldn’t get into the Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea or Manchester United teams.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is a solid signing for Tottenham, but shows they are working on a budget

Only Harry Kane from Mourinho’s squad would be of interest to the English Champions League clubs which suggests getting Spurs into the top four would be one of the biggest achievements of his career.

As for relegation, so much could be decided by what happens in the remainder of the transfer window.

The lack of fans is detrimental to newly-promoted teams Leeds, West Brom and Fulham because hearing that home crowd pumped up by being in the Premier League would have been a massive help.

I remember once getting beaten at Hull on the opening day of the season because of the atmosphere more than anything else.

Of last season’s survivors, Newcastle and Aston Villa need to do more transfer business to be confident of staying up. Brighton also have to be careful.

Leeds supporters will be more optimistic after the club splashed out £27million on a striker, Rodrigo. Other clubs need to invest like that.

Leeds have shown real intent with the £27m purchase of striker Rodrigo from Valencia

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