What's the story?
Lionel Messi has always been scrutinised whenever his future has been discussed at FC Barcelona. Messi has been with the Catalans since the age of 13 and is currently in talks for his eighth contract with the club.
With the talks stalled at the moment, whispers have come out of the Argentine's camp of him being unhappy at the Camp Nou and his eagerness to play in a new league. Manchester City have always been admirers of the 29-year-old and are expected to do everything in their might to lure Messi away from the Catalans, according to reports from Spain.
In case you didn't know...
Messi's contract expires in 2018 and the club are growing restless over the disagreement between the two parties. His father, who also acts as his agent, has been trying to cut a better deal for his son, while the player is keeping his options open at the moment and taking his time to sign a new deal.
President Josep Bartomeu has stated that the board is confident of convincing Messi to sign a new deal and also confirmed their wish to make him the best-paid player in Europe. This is where Manchester City's role can play a big part in Messi's future.
The heart of the matter
Though the 29-year-old has a buyout clause of £215 million, he has just a year and a half left on his current contract and Barcelona may get absolutely nothing if Messi leaves on a Bosman next summer. Manchester City value the five-time Ballon d'Or winner at above £100 million and are also willing to offer him £500,000 per week which roughly translates to £3000 per hour. City owners have sanctioned a massive £200 million package to bring Messi to the Etihad.
It is being said that City are desperate to sign Messi which will mark a new dawn in their club's history. The Citizens are closely monitoring Messi's current situation and are hopeful to use Pep Guardiola's presence at the club as a bait to lure the Argentine. The duo have been highly effective when together and brought many laurels to FC Barcelona during Guardiola's time at Camp Nou.
With Manchester City’s pursuit of Messi, cash-rich clubs like PSG and Manchester United will also look to lure the Barcelona talisman to play for their side. It has also been rumoured that Messi has been advised to see out his contract with FC Barcelona which will see him earn more money when he leaves on a free. If he decides to leave on a free transfer, Messi can start negotiating with other clubs in January 2018 and can ask for a huge signing bonus which is expected to be in the range of £85 million.
Barcelona have their biggest task in hand to try and convince the superstar to sign a contract extension and end all speculations for now. This time the situation is slightly different than before and with the emergence of wealthy clubs, the prospect of Messi playing at another club in Europe is a possibility.
But, it has also been speculated that Messi may try to use these rumours to make Barcelona offer him a huge contract and end his career at the Nou Camp.