Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he will be ‘sad’ to see Lionel Messi leave Barcelona given his ties with the La Liga giants but says the Argentine’s arrival in England would be good for the Premier League.
The 33-year-old handed in a transfer request earlier this week and he’s determined to force through an exit from the Camp Nou following their humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat to Bayern Munich.
Manchester City are the frontrunners to sign the Argentine and a move to the Etihad would see Messi reunited with former manager Pep Guardiola.
Arteta started his playing career at Barcelona and he grew up supporting the Catalans, while his coaching career began under Guardiola at the Etihad.
The Spaniard admits he would be ‘sad’ to see Messi leave his boyhood club but says it can only be good for the league if the best players play in England.
‘He has been linked everywhere, you know?,’ said Arteta.
‘He has more clubs than any other player in history after him. I’ve been a Barcelona fan since I was young and it’s always sad to see, who in my opinion has been the best player in football history, leave that football club. Let’s see what happens, if he comes to England we’re all going to enjoy it.
‘It doesn’t matter. It’s good for football. We’ll have to find a way, if it’s not here we might find him in the Champions League, you never know. You want the best players in your league and for me that’s the best thing, to have the most competitive league in the world.
‘The Premier League has always had that. The times with Ronaldo, I played against him and it was great because it raises the level of every individual and every team as well.’
However. the Argentine’s camp hope to exploit a loophole in his contract that could allow him to walk away for free, though Barcelona strongly counter this claim.
City are prepared to pay a fee for the attacker but Messi earns around £970,000-a-week in Barcelona and would likely need to take a huge pay cut to force thorough an exit.