The 33-year-old failed to impress during Barcelona's shock 4-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
And Cole says: "You'd have to do your due diligence before you sign Messi. He looked disinterested tonight.
"The 34-year-old Messi, if he plays like that it will be a gamble.
"To take him into a club where Pep relies on energy, enthusiasm, togetherness.
"It's a mess at Barca, I don't know how they're going to sort it out. I can't see Messi staying there.
"It's going to be tough for him to connect into one of these big teams because he's going to have to roll back the clock and move like he did three or four years ago."
Cole claimed Messi was not 'emotionally engaged' in the match as he slated Barcelona's performance.
He added: "Disinterested is the word. They had no power, no togetherness.
"There was no connection between the back four and the front three and in between it looked bitty.
"Messi looked disinterested. It's really hard for any ex-player to criticise him because he's a genius and the greatest player I've seen play football but tonight he didn't look like he was emotionally engaged in the game.
"He's a leader out there, so is [Gerard] Pique and so is [Sergio] Busquets. The spine of the team at Barcelona look weak and just fell to bits.
"It was 4-1 - but it could have been five or six. It's worrying times for Barcelona."