With the Lionel Messi transfer saga already taking new twists and turns, Terry Gibson told the Transfer Talk podcast the Barcelona hierarchy might now want him to leave the club.
Since the shock news broke on Tuesday, the football world has been alive with talk of what next for arguably the world's best-ever player - with claims and counter claims filling the back pages in Spain and further afield.
- Transfer Centre LIVE!
- Transfer window 2020: Done deals so far
- Summer transfer window - key dates and times
- Premier League ins and outs | Lionel Messi rumours
Host Pete Graves is joined by Dharmesh Sheth and Spanish football expert Terry Gibson to discuss everything Lionel Messi on the day the 33-year-old failed to show up for pre-season coronavirus testing, meaning he will be unable to join Ronald Koeman's first training session on Monday.
So with the drama only heightening around the Nou Camp and the prospect of an increasingly ugly transfer saga potentially on the horizon, are Barcelona starting to think it might be better for their talisman to do the unthinkable and finally break ties?
Gibson told the podcast: "It's a sign now that there is going to be a war between Barcelona and Messi. If you're asking me what is going to happen eventually, I think Manchester City are the favourites now. But part of me thinks (Josep) Bartomeu and Ronald Koeman want to see Messi out of the door now.
"They want to eradicate his wage bill, Luis Suarez's wage bill, the team needs rebuilding, but I think Manchester City will have to pay a fee which isn't €600m or €700m, it's going to be €100m at the very least, even for a 33-year-old.
"If Barcelona can get the transfer fee from Manchester City, get Messi off the wage bill and try to pin the blame on Messi, that's the outcome which suits Bartomeu, Ronald Koeman, and the outcome that will suit Manchester City.
- All the latest analysis on Lionel Messi's future
- Insight: Messi's contract situation explained
- How would Messi do in the Premier League?
"I find it hard to see an outcome where Messi, who's missed the medical preparation and can't train, has a way back, eats humble pie and stays at Barcelona."
Can Manchester City afford Messi?
La Liga announced on Sunday that, despite reported claims by Messi, the player's €700m buyout clause remained intact until his contract runs out next June.
With that in mind, is there a club in the world who can afford to buy him out of his current deal? PSG and Manchester City have already emerged as the reported front-runners for his signature for that reason - but even with that, meeting the clause would blow the existing world-record transfer fee out of the water.
But Sky Sports News' Ben Ransom told the podcast, with City's existing financial structure, a deal to sign Messi - albeit not at his maximum cost - was a viable outcome.
He said: "Every club, you'd be stupid not to be sailing close to the wind if you can generate the revenue, then you've got to maximise what you can spend. FFP is there to hold clubs like City back, which must be frustrating when they've got one of the richest owners in the world, and he just cannot spend the money he would like to on the football club. I understand his pain, because other clubs have been able to do that for 20, 30, 40 years.
"City do have assets. Raheem Sterling's a great example, they bought him for £50m, he must be worth £100m now - he's already said he might be interested in a move to Real Madrid. If at some point in the future, they have to sell someone like Raheem Sterling to finance the club going forward, they might do that.
"Every year their academy makes them anything from £10m to £40m in player sales, and we don't hear much about it because they're 18-19-year-old kids. That is a profit-making enterprise. They're very smart on that front and they maximise their income there.
"For everyone of them they've got a Phil Foden. What would he be worth in today's market? Even now, about £100m probably.
"They've got things in their favour, and from their point of view, they'll have the best legal and financial minds looking at this. If Juventus, a club who earn let's say £100m a year less than Manchester City, can afford a deal for Cristiano Ronaldo, then City in the richest league in the world can definitely afford, one way or another, a deal to sign Lionel Messi."
Will Messi leave Barcelona? And if so, where will he go? We round-up the very latest news and press rumours on the Argentinian's future.
It is the perennial question - how would Lionel Messi do in the Premier League? As years passed, hopes of an answer were fading but with the news the Barcelona icon has asked to leave the club, the prospect has never felt more real. It is just a shame Stoke did not stick around...
All the latest news, analysis and rumours from the window in one place.
The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.
A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports' digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.