The Argentine legend's future was a topic of much debate last summer and in the winter as he declared his time at the club to be over. It was reported at the time that Pep Guardiola's Manchester City was Lionel Messi's preferred destination upon his departure from Barcelona.
However, the move failed to materialise after both Barcelona and LaLiga Santander intervened, claiming that the staggering €700m release clause in Lionel Messi's contract is still active and needed to be triggered if he had to leave.
The 33-year-old then decided to remain at the club and famously spoke of his love for the Blaugrana in an explosive interview with La Sexta.
Now, a new report from MARCA suggests that Manchester City never actually made any offer for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to join forces with former manager Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium. They refuted claims regarding the Cityzens' reported offers to Lionel Messi in the summer and in the winter, when he was into the final six months of his contract.
Lionel Messi's future at Barcelona still up in the air
Apart from Manchester City, Lionel Messi has also been strongly linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain to reunite with former teammate and close friend Neymar Jr. The Brazilian superstar fuelled this speculation after claiming that he hopes to play with Lionel Messi next year.
Speaking after PSG's 3-1 win over Manchester United back in early December, Neymar expressed;
"I want to play with [Lionel] Messi again. It’s what I want the most. I want to enjoy being on the pitch with him again. For sure next year we have to do it."
Lionel Messi later responded to Neymar and clarified the Brazilian's comments, saying;
"He [Neymar] didn't say, 'Let's play,' he said, 'I'd like to play' … right? Yes, we talk from time to time. The three of us either with him or with Luis [Suarez] every day. We maintain the relationship."
Barcelona are understandably hopeful of holding on to Lionel Messi for the foreseeable future, but it could potentially prove to be a herculean task given their recent form.
Sunday's draw against Cadiz now leaves Barcelona eight points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid and their unceremonious 4-1 thrashing at the hands of PSG all but confirms another early exit from the UEFA Champions League.
With less than six months left on his current contract, it remains to be seen if Lionel Messi will commit his future to his boyhood club or seeks greener pastures elsewhere.