Guillem Balague believes Manchester City are in talks to sign Lionel Messi on a deal worth a staggering £800,000 a week – but insists nothing has been agreed with the Barcelona superstar yet.
Reports in Friday’s papers suggested City had opened negotiations with Messi about a move to the Etihad Stadium, with the Argentine seemingly unhappy with the ongoing tax probe into his earnings and amid claims the club have made a new deal for Neymar their top priority.
Although City boss Manuel Pellegrini refused to discuss the possibility of Messi arriving at the club at his press conference on Friday, Spanish football expert Balague believes a move to the Premier League is certainly a possibility.
He said in his weekly Sky Sports Q&A: “We have said already that there are three English clubs that have approached Messi’s representatives saying we are willing to take you.
“At the moment, he is earning 40million euros gross which would be about £35million – it’s not that far from £800,000-a-week.
“My understanding is that nobody has reached a stage where wages have been discussed beyond the promise that he will earn more in England that he would in Spain.
Where will Lionel Messi be playing his football next season?
“All those clubs are trying to do, and I’m sure City are one of them, is try to convince him. If Manchester City are to appoint Pep Guardiola as their coach, could that have an influence on Messi’s decision? Absolutely.
“But you have to say the only thing that is certain is that Messi is at Barcelona, he wants to stay at Barcelona but the door has never been so open before. It doesn’t mean he’s going to move but it means that he is listening.”
Balague also says that Messi, who has 431 goals in 526 appearances for Barca, would not be leaving the Nou Camp purely for money reasons, but that his ongoing tax problems in Spain could play a part.
“It’s not about money if he goes,” Balague added. “It’s certainly not about money or the fact that Barcelona is trying to give Neymar a new contract, nothing to do with that.
“It wouldn’t be for footballing reasons either because at Barcelona he’s at the perfect club for him.
“But it will have something to do with the treatment he’s getting in regards to the tax situation, which he thinks is unfair.
“Plus, he is maturing and another challenge is attractive. But we are still at the stage of trying to convince him.”