Manchester City have reportedly met with Lionel Messi’s representatives over a potential move to the Etihad.
The meeting held in a Barcelona restaurant last week comes amidst the former World Player of the Year’s growing dissatisfaction with the state of Barca’s squad following the enforced sale of team-mate and friend Neymar.
Messi and Barcelona agreed a new four-year contract last month which was designed to make the forward the best paid footballer in the history of the game, increasing his basic weekly wage to over £1million.
Manchester City’s interest in Messi is a long standing one with the club’s Abu Dhabi ownership and its ex-Barcelona management making it clear to the Argentine that he has an open invitation to work with Pep Guardiola in England.
The club wants to bring a forward in before the current transfer window closes, holding concurrent talks with Alexis Sanchez over a move from Arsenal, and are understood to be prepared to use Messi’s release clause to sign him this month if the possibility presents itself.
With less than two weeks remaining in this window and Messi known for his hesitancy over committing to such decisions, a more realistic and economic option than paying the buy-out this summer would be to prepare the groundwork on a pre-contract agreement that would take Messi to City on a free transfer ahead of the 2018-2019 campaign.
According to Barcelona sources, Messi “is seriously considering leaving. He is open to a move, but knowing the player it will take him a while to decide”.