Manchester City will consider a January move for Lionel Messi to steal a march on their rivals for the Barcelona superstar, Daily Star is reporting.
Messi, 33, decided to honour his Barca contract and remain with the club this season, but is expected to leave next summer – triggering a fight for a player long regarded as the best in the world.
City would be favourites to sign him, but know they’d have major competition, so they could offer cash-strapped Barca a fee of £15million in the winter transfer window. That would put them ahead of the pack and give the Catalan club a fee, when they face losing Messi for nothing just a few months later.
Omar Berrada, City’s Chief Football Operations Manager, has already insisted that they would have the financial resources to sign Messi next year.
City, managed by Messi’s former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, are known to be the Argentinian’s preferred destination.
But mega-rich Paris Saint Germain also want him and there would be interest from Major League Soccer in America, which also appeals to Messi.
Juventus, Chelsea and Manchester United could also join the Messi battle. The biggest threat to City’s hopes, though, would be a change at the top at Barcelona. A new president could persuade him to stay.
But if he did arrive at The Etihad, it would also increase the chances of his close friend and Argentina team-mate Sergio Aguero, 32, extending his City stay by at least a further 12 months.