While Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte has poured cold water on rumours of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi signing for the Serie A side, we could still see the Argentine ace face off against his long-time arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo once again — just not in Italy.
Conte has dismissed talk of Messi shifting from Camp Nou to San Siro, to renew hostilities against Juventus star Ronaldo, who spent the best part of a decade with Real Madrid, fighting Messi for trophies.
It has been reported that Messi had halted contract negotiations with Barcelona amid reports of growing tensions within the club. His current deal runs till 2021.
Reports in Spain linked Messi with move to Inter, but Conte said: “We’re talking about fantasy football, situations that at the moment cannot be linked to Inter. For many reasons. I don’t think there’s a madman in the world who wouldn’t want Messi. But that kind of situation really is very, very, very far from Inter, from what we are doing and what we are trying to build.”
However, that may not be the end of the will-he-won’t-he saga regarding Messi and his future — and football fans the world over may still get their wish of seeing the diminutive playmaker facing off against Ronaldo on a regular basis on the the domestic scene.
Enter the lucrative English Premier League, where players dream to play, and pocket huge salaries for the privilege.
Messi has long been linked with a reunion with former Barca coach Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, and the recent developments at Camp Nou have moved such talk into a distinct possibility.
Meanwhile, as Juventus stumble to a ninth consecutive Serie A title, major surgery is required to their squad if they want to remain at the top in Italy — and the major cut in that operation may be to move Ronaldo on, with Chelsea, Tottenham and former employers Manchester United all reportedly interested in the Portuguese star.
The Turin club are eager to get fresh faces into their squad, and offloading Ronaldo and his hefty wages would go a long way to realising that.
So Messi v Ronaldo is still on the cards, it is jus the venue had moved from Italy to England. And what a tantalising prospect that would be.