Reports continue to suggest that Lionel Messi wants to join Manchester City this summer, but Barcelona are insisting on only letting him go for his full release clause.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner sparked what could be the biggest transfer story of all-time when he told Barcelona he wants to leave them earlier this week.
The La Liga giants crashed out of the Champions League with a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich. It has prompted Messi to consider his future.
Naturally, only a handful of clubs across the world would be able to afford Messi, whom many consider to be the greatest footballer of all-time. Even Liverpool have ruled out a move.
However, Manchester City have the financial power to potentially bring him to the Premier League. Such a move would reunite him with Pep Guardiola, under whom he enjoyed the very best years of his glittering career.
Rivals Manchester United have also been linked, with previous reports suggesting they had made contact with his father.
Paris Saint-Germain are also rich enough to consider a move for Messi, having broken the world transfer record to sign Neymar from Barcelona three years ago.
However, according to L’Equipe, Messi’s father has informed PSG that the forward would prefer to join Man City.
Guardiola appears to be the key factor in persuading Messi into considering a move to the Etihad Stadium. In fact, Marca add that the 33-year-old called his former manager last Tuesday to offer his services. Speaking to Guardiola was apparently Messi’s first instinct after he decided to quit Barca.
Hence, the alleged conversation between Messi and Guardiola took place before the Argentina international’s transfer request. The report claims Messi told the City boss: “I want to win the next two Ballon d’Or awards, and I can only do that with you.”
However, before City fans can dream of calling one of the best players in history their own, the club would first have to negotiate with Barcelona. And that won’t be easy.
Bartomeu rejects Messi meeting
Messi has come to a disagreement with his current club over the existence of a termination clause in his contract. His deal expires next year, but there had been a clause allowing him to leave for free if he chose.
Barcelona insist that clause has now expired, meaning any interested party must pay their asking price. And according to El Periodico, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu will not discuss a departure with Messi.
The report adds that Barcelona will only meet with Messi to discuss a contract extension – not a transfer. Therefore, if anyone wants to buy him, they must match his €700m release clause.
Such a deal would break the world transfer record more than three times over. Some reports claim City are willing to sacrifice up to five key players to raise the required funds, but Saturday’s papers disagree.