Manchester City are ready to revive their interest in Lionel Messi sooner than planned by making a January transfer swoop for the Barcelona icon.
City had looked to pounce for the Argentine superstar this summer, when he tried to force his way out, but were rebuffed when Barcelona blocked his exit by insisting on demanding his astronomical £625m release clause was met.
However, according to The Sun the Premier League outfit are considering making an offer to sign Messi mid-season for a fee rather than waiting until he becomes a free agent next summer.
They report that a bid of possibly less than £50m may be enticing enough for the Spanish giants who are resigned to losing the six-time Ballon d’Or winner in just over seven months’ time. Barca are currently fighting a debt of £440m.
Messi has scored six goals in 10 appearances for the Nou Camp outfit this season but still holds a frosty relationship with the board and new manager Ronald Koeman.
Even though it would hurt their on-field objectives massively, Barcelona are in severe financial trouble and have been trying to slash their wage bill by £171m in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Messi is the current highest earner at the club, with the Argentine superstar pocketing around £500,000 per week (£26m per year).
Player wages took up around 61 per cent of the club’s £940m income before the coronavirus pandemic took hold. But since income has dropped to £746m, salaries have become over 80 per cent of total income if changes are not made.
The acquisition of the 33-year-old would be a fillip for City manager Pep Guardiola too – who is yet to agree a new deal at the club beyond the end of the season. It would also show the Etihad outfit’s intentions towards the Spaniard who is in his fifth campaign in charge there.
The deal also appeals to City as Messi would be eligible for the knockout stages of the Champions League, should they qualify, despite having already played in the competition this term for Barcelona.
A move to the club would see Messi reunited with former Barcelona boss Guardiola but also Argentina strike-partner Sergio Aguero.
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