Lionel Messi’s potential NYCFC run would be Ruthian spectacle

Babe Ruth … Mickey Mantle … Lionel Messi.

If Messi ever walks into Yankee Stadium as a member of NYCFC, regardless of his age, it would be a spectacle befitting of one of the world’s most legendary arenas.

For soccer fans, Messi’s greatness needs no explanation. He is God-like, routinely making the best players in the world look like children in his presence. His skill level is not of this world and, it can be easily argued, he is the greatest the game has ever seen.

ESPN reported that Messi could leave Barcelona for Manchester City. Manchester City owns NYCFC with the Yankees having a 20 percent stake.

In a potential contract, Messi reportedly could spend three seasons in the Premier League with Man City before heading to MLS at age 36.

Like Messi in front of a goal, the timing could be exquisite. And, just maybe, he could bring his old coach Pep Guardiola, currently of Manchester City, who is sort of akin to Casey Stengel. All of it occurring with the ‘26 World Cup being partly in the US.

“Right before this continent hosts the ‘26 World Cup it will be hard to quantify his impact, but it will be a seismic moment that will trump Pelé with the Cosmos,” ESPN’s lead soccer analyst Taylor Twellman told The Post. “At 36 he will still have something to offer.”

Twellman, who has an insider’s ear for what is going on in the soccer world, wonders, “Will Pep join him?”

There is a business and personal aspect to all this. Messi and Guardiola won championships with Barcelona before Guardiola left. They are stars.

Meanwhile, Barcelona is run like the 1970 Steinbrenner Yankees, spending money and firing managers like a Boss. Messi is Reggie Jackson, the straw that stirs the drink without the strikeouts.

But he has reportedly grown tired of the circus, which has resulted in Barcelona recently being embarrassed in the sport’s highest club competition, the UEFA Champions League. Last week, an 8-2 trouncing to eventual winners, Bayern Munich, preceded all the “Messi wants out” reports. He is the face of Adidas, which may be a factor in all this.

The way soccer is constructed on the world stage, players can basically ask for free agency, but it can be complicated. A player of Messi’s all-time stature could end up in a legal battle. If all works out, it would be special if he transfers to Manchester City before hopping on the 4 train to the Bronx.

Lionel Messi NYCFC Manchester CIty Barcelona Pele Cosmos
Pele playing for the Cosmos at Yankee Stadium in 1976.Getty Images

The growth of soccer has been happening for decades in this country with predictions about when it is about to boom yearly. This discussion is rote because soccer has arrived from the mostly excellent coverage on TV to the outstanding in-stadium experience of MLS to the popularity of the women’s national team to immense youth involvement to young, exciting men’s players like 21-year-old Christian Pulisic.

But Messi would be something out of this world, even at 36 and perhaps a slightly diminished player. He could make the game grow in the Bronx, where NYCFC has failed to get a stadium built, forcing them to play on a reduced pitch more fitted for an eight vs. eight youth game.

Messi alone would not be able to bring a new stadium, because the bureaucracy of New York is not solved by stepovers. But maybe, just maybe, a new arena will finally arrive by the time Messi does.

It could be “The House That Messi Built.”

Ruth … Mantle … Messi. Maybe it happens. Maybe it doesn’t. It is fun to dream about it.