Lionel Messi: Manchester City watching Barcelona exit attempt with interest

Man Utd could afford a deal for Messi but remain focused on No 1 target Jadon Sancho

Lionel Messi equalised for Barcelona at home to Osasuna on Thursday
Image: Could Pep Guardiola be reunited with Lionel Messi at Manchester City?

Manchester City are watching Lionel Messi's attempt to leave Barcelona this summer with interest but remain unconvinced the Argentina forward will quit the Nou Camp.

Barcelona have confirmed Messi sent a document expressing his desire to activate a release clause that would end his contract - which currently runs until June 2021 - and allow him to leave for free this summer.

Pep Guardiola during his time at Barcelona speaking to Lionel Messi
Image: Messi won four Balon d'Or crowns, three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues under Guardiola at Barcelona

Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Inter Milan are thought to be the clubs most likely to sign Messi if he becomes available, with City's Barcelona connections arguably making the Etihad Stadium Messi's likeliest destination if he does become available.

Messi played under City manager Pep Guardiola at the Nou Camp between 2008 and 2012, winning the Ballon d'Or four times, La Liga three times and the Champions League twice.

Barcelona are confident captain Lionel Messi will be back in first-team training before their match against Mallorca on June 13 3:09
Sky Sports News reporter Gary Cotterill has the latest from Barcelona on the whereabouts of Lionel Messi and what next for the Argentine

"The information I have is that he would be happy to play there but that does not mean he will go there. What we're hearing is that as far as City are concerned, there is still a good chance that he will remain at Barcelona this summer," Kaveh Solhekol told Sky Sports News' Transfer Show.

Lionel Messi scarves 5:19
The Transfer Show discuss Messi's situation at Barcelona and whether he could move to another club or is it a power play?

"Many people think he could still become a City player simply because of the connections he has with people who are at City now - with the manager Pep Guardiola, the director of football Txiki Begiristain and the chief executive Ferran Soriano.

"These are all people he worked with at Barcelona and significantly City with their backing, have the finances to do a deal.

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"The feeling at City is that this is a power play between the player and the president at Barcelona. It's safe to say that City are taking an interest in what's happening and are watching the developments."

Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi enjoyed huge success together
Image: Pep Guardiola and Messi enjoyed huge success together

Messi was pictured in Barcelona on Wednesday night by Spanish TV station El Chiringuito after a dinner with team-mate Luis Suarez, following reports the Argentine's transfer request was linked to Koeman's decision to put the Uruguay striker on the market.

While Premier League champions Liverpool have ruled out a bid for the Messi, and big-spending Chelsea have already recruited Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Ben Chilwell for substantial sums ahead of anticipated moves for Thiago Silva and Kai Havertz, Manchester United appear to be the only other English club capable of recruiting Messi.

"Our information is that their number one target remains Jadon Sancho, but Manchester United do have the finances to be able to do a deal," Dharmesh Sheth reported.

"It's quite interesting because the Glazer family who own the club also own the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just a few months ago, they put a deal together to sign Tom Brady - the NFL equivalent of Messi - so they have the finances to do a deal."

Watch the Transfer Show on Sky Sports News at 5pm and 7pm every weekday

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