The arrival of Lionel Messi at Manchester City “would be the difference between them winning the title and not”, claims Peter Crouch, with the former Liverpool striker considering the defending champions to be favourites in 2020-21.
Pep Guardiola has already started reshaping his squad ahead of the new season, with deals done for Nathan Ake and Ferran Torres.
There is the promise of more arrivals to come at the Etihad Stadium, with there a chance that six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi could be lured to England from Barcelona.
Crouch feels a deal for the forward could be the difference between City closing the gap on Liverpool and spending another campaign stuck in the Reds’ shadow.
The ex-England international told Paddy Power: “Imagine if City pulled off the Lionel Messi transfer?
“I love watching them play now, they’re an absolute class act. And honestly, if they added Messi, I’d think that would be the difference between them winning the title and not.
“This season is the last year of Pep Guardiola’s contract at City – and he’s been a top-class manager for them. The only thing failing him is Europe, isn’t it?
“Winning the Champions League has eluded him, but the improvement the club have made since he took charge has been unbelievable. He’s kicked them on to a new level, but some people might not view it as successful as other managers because of the Champions League.
“It is the one trophy they are so desperate to win.
“I think Guardiola has been a breath of fresh air for the Premier League – his football has been amazing. He’s a top manager, but not winning the Champions League is definitely a blot.”
Guardiola’s opposite number at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp, has delivered Champions League and Premier League glory on Merseyside.
He is not expected to spend big in the current transfer window , as Liverpool favour stability and continuity, and Crouch believes the Reds will once again be the team to beat as they seek to defend a crown they waited 30 years to capture.
The former Liverpool striker added: “I don’t think Liverpool will carry any kind of hangover into the new season.
“You’ve got to remember that they were 20-odd points clear when the season resumed. It is natural that there was a drop-off. But Liverpool were absolutely unbelievable last season, every single player pulled their weight, and they were a joy to watch. They won games they maybe weren’t great in, and then were incredible in other games.
“They hadn’t won the league for 30 years, so there was 100% going to be a drop off – because they were celebrating, let’s be honest.
“But once the new season starts, I think they’ve got enough big characters in that dressing room – the likes of James Milner, Virgil van Dijk, Hendo (Jordan Henderson) – that will make sure the whole squad is ready to go again. I have no doubt that they’ll be at it.
“It was amazing what Liverpool did last year. I don’t think they’ll win it as easy this season, you can guarantee it’ll be a hell of a lot closer, but they’ve got to be favourites.”