Not for the first time, Lionel Messi grabbed the attention of the footballing world this week.

The Argentine magician has told Barcelona he wants to leave the club on a free transfer this summer.

That has set tongues wagging and as one of the richest clubs in the world, Manchester United are among a select few who could, in theory, afford him.

(PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Woodward could slip back into old ways

At the start of his time at United, Woodward was so keen to land expensive, big-name signings.

That led to a string of costly flops including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Angel di Maria, right through to Alexis Sanchez, but United insist they are going in a different direction now.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears to want younger, hungrier players, with a focus on team harmony.

But the possible availability of arguably the greatest player in football in history on the market may tempt Woodward back to his old ways.

Woodward should look elsewhere

Woodward shouldn’t be distracted by Messi.

Manchester City, with their Barcelona connections in the dugout and the boardroom, look far likelier to sign the Argentine.

United still need those young, hungry recruits in a window which hasn’t got going at all yet.

 

Any deal for Messi would likely take weeks to complete and we’ve all seen that United are incapable of working on and negotiating multiple deals simultaneously.

Chasing Messi, which looks ultimately doomed to end in failure, would be a waste of time and a loss of focus by Woodward.

He needs to focus on more realistic targets, but would any United fan really be surprised if he got stars in his eyes and spent precious time chasing Messi instead?

Too much time has been wasted

Signing Lionel Messi would not be easy. While he could become a free agent by exercising a clause in his Barcelona contract, there is likely to be a legal wrangle.

Messi’s salary is insanely high, with image rights and commercial tie-ups an added complication.

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

This is the type of deal which could take a minimum of a month to thrash out, and United are typically slow to conduct business.

United have wasted too much time this transfer window already, allowing the first month to pass with no incoming deals.

Chasing Messi offers no guarantees, and it is a distraction Woodward should not be sucked into.

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