After coming close to a Barcelona exit last summer, Lionel Messi has officially left the Catalan giants on the expiry of his contract due to financial situations at the club, and he is now available on a free transfer this summer.
Chelsea are actively looking for a new forward this summer, with Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland and Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku being the two main candidates for the Blues to bring to Stamford Bridge next season.
Messi’s departure from Barcelona was imminent last season after the player activated a clause in his contract which allowed him to leave, but a last-minute change of heart saw the 34-year-old remain in Spain until this summer.
While wanting to stay at the club after the expiration of his contract, it wasn’t financially viable for Barcelona who are on the brink of a financial crisis, putting an end to Messi’s 20-year spell at the club.
So, with Messi now on the market and Chelsea looking to splash the cash, we wondered how would the Blues perform next season if they were to bring Messi to West London?
To see what would happen, we simulated next season with Messi at Chelsea, and this is what happened.
To set up the simulation, we used the Football Manager 2021 editor to arrange for the Argentinian forward to join the Blues on July 1st 2021.
This was how Messi’s in-game profile looked like as of July 1st 2021.
Messi had an incredible season for the Blues in his first campaign in West London, with the Argentine playing 51 games in all competitions, managing an unbelievable 37 goals and 10 assists in all competitions.
In the Premier League alone, Messi scored 27 goals and grabbed nine assists – making him the league’s top scorer and fourth-highest assister.
He also averaged a rating of 8.44 every game as he won the Premier League player of the season award.
Messi was equally as impressive in the Champions League, scoring eight goals and registering one assists in 10 starts in the competition.
At the end of the 2021/22 season, Football Manager 2021 put together an overall best Chelsea XI, based on performances, statistics and other metrics.
This is how the best Chelsea XI looked in 2021/22 according to FM21.
Full Chelsea best XI: Mendy; James, Rudiger, Christensen, Chilwell; Kante, Mount, Havertz; Pulisic, Messi, Werner.
Messi slotted into the right-winger position, allowing Timo Werner to remain as Chelsea’s central striker for the season.
So, how did the Blues perform in all competitions in our simulated season with Messi in the squad?
Chelsea’s 2021/22 season results with Messi
Here’s what the final 2021/22 Premier League table looked like at the end of our simulation.
Chelsea were involved in a four-way title battle until the last few games of the season, but the Blues missed out on the title in frustrating fashion, with Manchester City winning the league on goal difference, after both sides finished level on points.
Despite having an identical win record to City, their goal difference was nine less than Pep Guardiola’s side who went on to defend their league title.
Liverpool finished just one point below, whilst Manchester United finished fourth with 81 points – five less than the Blues.
So, how did Chelsea do in the cup competitions?
Predictably, Messi was sensational in the Champions League for Chelsea as he finished the campaign as the competition’s top scorer, and those goals were the reason that the Blues retained their European crown as they beat Atletico Madrid 2-1 in the final.
A Messi brace saw Chelsea win the third Champions League trophy in their history in this simulation, with his transfer proving what was needed for the Blues to continue their European success.
So how did the Blues do in the domestic competitions?
A 3-1 victory in the FA Cup final over Manchester United saw Tuchel’s side win their second trophy of the season, with Messi turning up the heat in the big games once again as he grabbed a brace in another cup final.
The same couldn’t be said for the Carabao Cup though, with Burnley knocking out the Blues in the Third Round of the competition on penalties.
With Messi, Chelsea won two major trophies, including a second Champions League in two seasons, and a second-place finish in the league losing out only on goal difference.
The arrival of Messi brought more success to West London in the simulation, but do you think the same would happen in the real world if the Argentine ever made a move to Chelsea?
Let us know in the comments below!