A Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi reunion in Manchester?

Barcelona captain Messi has handed in a transfer request and he wants to team up with former boss Guardiola at Manchester City.

But can City and Barca reach a deal?

 

TOP STORY – BARCA WANT MESSI COMPROMISE

Barcelona believe Lionel Messi is set to join Manchester City but the embattled LaLiga giants are eyeing a £250million (€280m) compromise, according to the Mirror.

Messi wants to leave Barca and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked to the likes of City, Inter, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

However, City feel they are on the brink of luring Messi to Manchester and Barca are desperately trying to recoup a fee, with the Argentina superstar hoping to leave on a free transfer.

Meanwhile, widespread reports claim Messi has told Barca he will not be attending pre-season testing on Sunday.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN claims Manchester United are favourites to sign Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek. The Dutch star has been linked to Barca and Real Madrid but United are in pole position to land the 23-year-old.

- Thiago Alcantara remains interested in moving to the Premier League but Liverpool are yet to make a bid for the Bayern Munich star, claims Fabrizio Romano.

- Goal says Chelsea have made a €20m (£18m) bid for Rennes goalkeeper Edouard Mendy amid doubts over Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Everton are targeting United goalkeeper Sergio Romero, reports the Mirror. The Argentina international – backup to David de Gea – has also been linked to newly promoted Leeds United. It comes as Sky Sport reports Everton have reached a deal to sign Allan from Napoli.

- According to Tuttosport, Barca forward Luis Suarez is pushing for a move to Serie A champions Juve. The Uruguayan has been told he can leave the Spanish club.

- Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali has said yes to a move to Milan, reports La Gazzetta Sportiva. Inter had been favourites to sign Tonali but city rivals Milan appear poised to land the Italy international.

Lionel Messi should leave Barcelona for a reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, says former Camp Nou assistant Juan Carlos Unzue.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi sent shockwaves through world football by handing in a transfer request at Barca this week.

City are viewed as frontrunners for his signature, with Messi reported to have called Guardiola – Barcelona's head coach during a decorated period between 2008 and 2012 when Messi became widely regarded as the finest player on the planet – to give him notice of his intention to leave the club he joined as a 12-year-old.

Disputes and negotiations over how much of a fee Barcelona can collect for a player who officially remains not for sale, indeed whether they are entitled to a fee at all, are set to rumble on next week.

Unzue, who served as Guardiola's goalkeeping coach at Barca before working as assistant to Luis Enrique between 2014 and 2017, hopes a resolution that ends with Messi in Manchester is reached.

"On one hand, if he leaves Barcelona, I would love that he goes to remember old times with people he already knows and has felt a shared success with," he told Stats Perform News.

"I hope he goes to Manchester City; I say this sincerely. I am sure his decision will be very tough.

"Also, I am sure he keeps a great memory of that period with Pep because everyone has grown up alongside Pep.

"This is a reality, not just the players but everyone who has worked in the staff too. I speak for myself, but I have felt and heard that from others."

Messi requesting a move only amplified the noise of superclub in chaos, with sporting director Eric Abidal following head coach Quique Setien out of the door in the wake of the humiliating 8-2 Champions League quarter-final defeat to eventual winners Bayern Munich.

Ronald Koeman was installed as Setien's successor by under-fire president Josep Maria Bartomeu, although claims the Dutchman swiftly told Luis Suarez he was surplus to requirements apparently only exacerbated the Messi situation, which appears to have been brewing for some time.

"I think it is complicated because he is an intelligent person with a great personality, although very introverted," Unzue said.

"This is not in the heat of the moment. I am sure he has absolutely evaluated the circumstances. I think he deserves and has earned the right to make his own decision.

"We can talk about whether it is the best or the worst way. I will not say anything because I do not know what happened within the club and between the people involved. He has earned that right."

The now infamous burofax, sent by Messi's representatives to Barcelona asking to leave, sought to invoke a clause in his contract that allows him to walk away for free at the end of each season.

Even though the terms of that clause are now up for debate given how the coronavirus pandemic distorted the schedule, Unzue feels it shows Barcelona were willing to grant Messi the autonomy over his future he is now trying to exercise.

"The contracts he has signed during the last years said this," he added. "The club has left a door open to give him the opportunity to decide.

"He understands he can find other motivations, other team-mates in another place, a change that sometimes is necessary."

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will be at Paris Saint-Germain and have Pep Guardiola as their coach by next year, says Fabrice Pancrate.

Messi has told Barcelona he wants out but was reportedly turned down in his request for a meeting with club president Josep Maria Bartomeu to discuss a transfer.

PSG sporting director Leonardo is said to have contacted the 33-year-old's father, Jorge, to inquire about his situation, though Manchester City – managed by former Barca boss Guardiola – are rumoured to be the favourites to sign the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

However, Pancrate, who played for PSG between 2004 and 2009, believes the Ligue 1 champions have a masterplan in place which involves not only Messi, but Guardiola and Juventus star Ronaldo too.

"I'll tell you what I think. Beyond the city itself – because Manchester is ugly, it's grey, it's raining – there are plenty of things that make me say that Messi is going to Paris," Pancrate told Le Parisien

"And Ronaldo will join him in 2021. And Guardiola too.

"I think Guardiola and Messi have spoken to each other before. Guardiola must have told him: 'We're going to mix things up. I want you in Manchester, but go to Paris and don't worry, next year I'll join you there.'

"I see it like that. And there, the slogan of PSG – 'let's dream bigger' – it makes perfect sense!

"It would be the first team in the world to bring together four aliens: Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Mbappe. With a crazy coach."

Ronaldo is about to enter his third season at Juve, having left Real Madrid in a €112million deal in 2018, but Pancrate believes a move to PSG would make perfect sense.

"Even though people say Messi is already 33, and that Ronaldo is going to be 36, stars of their calibre don't need to run," Pancrate continued. 

"It's the ball that moves! They will always make a technical difference. And then if you were able to take a [Gianluigi] Buffon or a David Beckham at 37, with a marketing side that no one hides, it makes perfect sense to take a Ronaldo who is still very competitive, very professional, who is afraid of nothing. 

"Paris has everything to gain! It's too premature for him to leave the European scene. He needs ever higher challenges. Who can offer him that after Juve? Can you imagine this dream team? It would just be grandiose."

The agent who helped Lionel Messi join Barcelona admits Manchester City represent a "rational choice" for the player and has clarified his suggestion that Inter will sign him.

The latest reports from Spain indicate Messi remains set on leaving Barca in this transfer window despite the club's determination to keep him.

City are considered one of the favourites to sign the Argentina star, but Inter and Paris Saint-Germain are also said to be preparing offers.

Josep Maria Minguella, the agent who helped to secure Messi's move to La Masia at the age of 13, previously indicated his belief that he will sign for Inter but says those remarks were misunderstood.

"My comments were misinterpreted," he told Tuttomercatoweb. "A few days ago, I simply said Inter is one of the options by virtue of the more advantageous tax system that exists in Italy.

"We also saw that with Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus two years ago... many champions are thinking of moving to Serie A nowadays.

"By the way, precisely because CR7 is already there, I don't think the Bianconeri are in the running [for Messi]."

When asked where he thinks the six-time Ballon d'Or winner will go, Minguella replied that he believes "there are many more chances Messi will stay at Barcelona until 2021", when his contract expires, rather than leave this year.

"Barca have already decided and I am convinced they will defend that choice until the end," he said.

"Leo has a contract and not even his own lawyers are sure he can move without paying that famous €700million release clause."

Minguella said Messi's attempts to quit the club are "surprising and unexpected" but added: "My long experience in the world of football has taught me that anything can always happen, absolutely anything.

"Cristiano Ronaldo's move from Real Madrid to Juventus was just the most recent example. In the football system, nothing is impossible."

Lionel Messi reportedly wants to negotiate his exit from Barcelona, who have other plans.

Messi, 33, has sensationally requested to leave Barca, the club where he has spent his entire professional career.

Talk around the record six-time Ballon d'Or winner continues.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WANTS TO NEGOTIATE BARCELONA EXIT

Messi wants to negotiate his exit from Barcelona, according to widespread reports in Spain.

Mundo Deportivo claims Barca insist Messi is not for sale, while adding the Argentina international wants a meeting with president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have been most strongly linked with moves for Messi.

L'Equipe reports PSG sporting director Leonardo called Messi's father, Jorge, but added City appear to be frontrunners.

It also says Juventus tried a discreet approach for Messi.

 

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- Staying at Barcelona and the Catalan giants are looking to strengthen. Sport reports they are interested in Lazio star Ciro Immobile, who equalled Gonzalo Higuain's Serie A record with 36 goals in a single season in 2019-20.

- At Real Madrid, James Rodriguez is widely expected to make an exit. The Sun reports Everton have agreed personal terms with James on a £4million-per-year deal.

- Inter could be close to an addition ahead of their 2020-21 season. Fabrizio Romano says the Nerazzurri are close to sealing a deal for Roma left-back Aleksandar Kolarov for around €2m.

- After Ben Chilwell joined Chelsea, Leicester City may have found their replacement at left-back. The Sun reports they have lined up a move for Monaco defender Fode Ballo-Toure.

- Emiliano Martinez took his chance when given his opportunity as Arsenal's number one, but it could give the Premier League side a chance to cash in. The Athletic states Arsenal are prepared to sell the goalkeeper during this transfer window.

Jurgen Klopp said there is "no chance" Liverpool could afford to sign Lionel Messi and cast doubt over whether the Barcelona captain will join Manchester City.

Messi has told Barca he wants to leave the Catalan giants, sparking frenzied speculation over who the mercurial forward will be playing for next season.

Klopp on Friday stated that any manager in the world would welcome the signing of Messi but ruled out the possibility of the Premier League champions landing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

On the eve of the Community Shield clash with Arsenal, he said: "Interest [in Messi]? Who doesn't want to have Messi in their team? But no chance. But good player, to be honest!"

City are the favourites to lure Messi to the Premier League and, although Klopp would like to see the 33-year-old playing in England, the Liverpool boss is not convinced it will happen.

Klopp continued: "It will obviously help Man City and make it more difficult to beat them. For the Premier League it would be great, that would help, but I am not sure the Premier League needs that boost.

"He's never played in another league. Football is different here. I'd like to see it. Not sure I will."

Klopp revealed Trent Alexander-Arnold is a doubt to face the Gunners at Wembley due to a minor injury.

The Reds boss said it is far from ideal being back in action so soon after returning to training, having only lifted the Premier League trophy just over a month ago.

He said: "Would I want to play a proper game after two weeks' preparation? No. But we've known about it for a while. We have worked really hard - as you saw against Salzburg as some boys had heavy legs.

"We're preparing for the whole season - one of most intense we have experienced."

Manchester City appear favourites to sign Lionel Messi, should he leave Barcelona.

Messi has sensationally handed in a transfer request at Camp Nou.

City are reportedly stepping up their chase as Pep Guardiola looks to reunite with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

TOP STORY – CITY PREPARE MEGA OFFER FOR MESSI

Manchester City are ready to offer £89million (€100m) plus Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus and Eric Garcia for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Sport.

Messi wants to end his association with embattled LaLiga giants Barca amid links to City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter.

The Guardian also claims City are convinced they have a chance of signing the superstar captain.

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- Goal says Barca forward Luis Suarez has been offered to Juventus as the Serie A champions consider a move. Suarez has reportedly been told he is not part of Ronald Koeman's plans.

Barca offered Antoine Griezmann to former club Atletico Madrid in exchange for Joao Felix, reports Marca.

- Gianluca Di Marzio says Milan have made a new bid to sign Brescia sensation Sandro Tonali. The Italy midfielder has been linked to Inter, though the Nerazzurri are yet to reach any agreement with Brescia as they eye Barca's Arturo Vidal.

Inter, meanwhile, have opened talks with Roma to sign veteran full-back Aleksandar Kolarov, according to Fabrizio Romano. Chelsea's Emerson Palmieri has also been targeted but Inter are refusing to meet their demands.

- The Mirror claims Tottenham are weighing up a move for Atletico striker Diego Costa. Jose Mourinho worked with Costa during the pair's time together at Chelsea. Sky Sport Italia also reports Spurs have had a request for Nicolo Zaniolo rejected by Roma.

City remain in talks to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, says Romano. Negotiations are taking place indirectly following the fallout from Jorginho's switch to Chelsea in 2018, having been set for City.

- Bayern Munich veteran Javi Martinez has turned down a move to Fiorentina as he is close to joining David Silva at Real Sociedad, says La Razon.

- Liverpool star Sadio Mane has been offered to Barca amid uncertainty over Messi's future, according to Tuttomercatoweb.

Lionel Messi joining Manchester City would be a "surreal" moment for the club but will not fix all of their problems, it was claimed on Thursday.

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner stunned the footballing world on Tuesday when he told Barca of his desire to leave the club he joined at the age of 13.

City are one of a small number of sides believed to be interested in Messi, who reportedly intends to activate a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for free.

Messi has scored 634 goals in 731 appearances during his time at Camp Nou.

David Mooney, host of the popular and long-running Blue Moon Podcast, is excited about the prospect of City signing the prolific Argentinian.

"I think it's all a bit surreal at the moment. The idea that City could sign who I think is the best player in the world is just mind-boggling, even after what we've seen over the past 10 or 12 years or so," Mooney told Stats Perform News.

"We're talking about the best player in the world moving to the Etihad. It's still very much a 'I'll believe it when I see it', no matter how strong the rumours get, no matter how much pace the story gathers.

"Until Lionel Messi is sitting with [director of football] Txiki Begiristain, holding up a City shirt, I'm not going to believe that he's on his way to the Etihad.

"You have to do that or you'll drive yourself mad with excitement and you've got that potential of being crushed like never before."

However, as much as Messi's arrival would generate fanfare, Mooney concedes strengthening at the back is imperative if City are to improve on an underwhelming 2019-20.

"It's a situation where, if Messi is available, you have to go out and get him. If you can make it work then you go and get him, just because of how good he is," Mooney said.

"City's season last season was a bit of a paradox. Their goalkeeper won the Golden Glove but they didn't keep enough clean sheets; they scored the most goals in the Premier League but they didn't score enough goals.

"The problems they need to fix are in those games like away at Norwich, like away at Southampton, where they create and create and create but nothing goes in.

"I suppose that is what Messi will fix. The bigger issue is City were so easily picked apart last season and Messi doesn't fix that really.

"Maybe I can contradict myself and say he might do, if City have so much more of the ball and he's so much of a threat, then on the see-saw balance of the game, the opposition can't have that much more of the ball and can't have many breakaways."

Pep Guardiola's side have already recruited Nathan Ake from Bournemouth but could be about to lose Eric Garcia to Barcelona, leaving them light at centre-back.

"If City go into the new season with only Nathan Ake as their new centre-back and somehow Nicolas Otamendi is still on the books I guess there'd be a lot of City fans bashing their heads against a brick wall," Mooney said.

"They really need to strengthen the centre-back situation, especially if they lose Eric Garcia. I suppose Eric Garcia going the other way in a Messi deal is a bit of an odd one and one that not many other people would complain about.

"But the bigger picture is that they've lost another decent centre-back and not reinforced that if they don't get someone like [Kalidou] Koulibaly in.

"I think they know they need to reinforce the centre-backs other than bringing in Nathan Ake. I don’t think they would drop everything just to go out and get Messi."

Reuniting with head coach Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium could be a huge factor in Messi's decision, having spent four trophy-laden seasons together at Barca.

But Mooney is cautious about what Messi's potential arrival would mean in terms of raising expectations at City.

"It's as if Messi is this magic bullet to win the Champions League. It's only fair that we say Guardiola has only won the Champions League with Messi in his team," he said.

"Guardiola has won the same number of Champions Leagues as Sir Alex Ferguson did and Ferguson took, what, 15 years more.

"On top of that, Messi's won it once since Guardiola hasn't been managing him. Maybe Messi needs Guardiola to win the Champions League as well.

"I don’t know how much it changes because my expectations for City last season were to put on a very good title challenge and then to do well in the three cup competitions.

"That's kind of where we're at again with Messi. I don't think you can go into the season and say I want them to win all four because they've got the best player in the world. Again. It's unfair.

"They have the best chance out of anybody of winning all four, but it doesn’t make it easy or likely to happen. I don't think it changes that much."

Gareth Barry, who holds the record for the most appearances in the Premier League, has retired at the age of 39.

The former England midfielder played for Aston Villa, Manchester City and Everton before finishing up at West Brom, where he spent two seasons in the Championship.

Barry played in 653 top-flight games and won 53 caps for his country, scoring three goals during an international career that included playing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

He was also an unused member of Kevin Keegan's Three Lions squad at Euro 2000, having become a regular by then in the Villa first team.

Linked with a move to Liverpool at one time, Barry eventually left Villa Park in 2009 to join City, going on to win both the FA Cup and the Premier League under Roberto Mancini.

He joined Everton initially on a season-long loan before signing permanently in 2014, signing a three-year contract to complete a free transfer to Goodison Park.

West Brom was the final stop in a playing career that spanned over two decades. He was used sparingly in the 2019-20 campaign, though, with his last outing coming against Newcastle United in an FA Cup tie in March.

All four clubs he represented sent congratulatory tweets referencing his retirement on Thursday, along with the England national team and the Premier League's official account.

Wayne Rooney believes Lionel Messi could win Ballon d'Or number seven if he joins Manchester City or Manchester United - but claims Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool would be a better signing.

Messi has informed Barcelona he wants to leave the club and City are one of the favourites to sign the Argentina star.

Few clubs are considered capable of putting together a package to tempt Messi to join them, but United, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain are among those said to have the necessary financial clout to make the move possible.

Former Red Devils captain Rooney thinks Messi would thrive if he moved to either of the Manchester clubs, insisting the 33-year-old is a "different level" even to his former team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

However, Rooney thinks Liverpool will effectively have their title defence secured if they manage to sign Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago.

He told talkSPORT: "I think it is City or Liverpool [for the title].

"Chelsea are making a lot of signings, some good signings. Man United have a lot of potential in the players they have got but I still think they are a year away.

"Chelsea, with the new signings, will possibly need a year to get everyone on the same song sheet.

"So, I do think it is between City and Liverpool. And if Liverpool get Thiago from Bayern Munich, I think it is done [the title]. That is a better signing than Messi going to Man City."

On Messi, Rooney said: "I know he's getting older but he's a player who no one has seen before.

"Messi has everything – he can create goals, score goals, dictate the game and is the best player of all time. He's one of the only players I've sat there and watched and been in awe.

"Him and Cristiano Ronaldo have set a standard which I don't think we will ever see again but, for me, Messi is just different level.

"He could come to the Premier League and be a Player of the Year. One million per cent.

"If he surrounds himself with Bruno Fernandes or Kevin De Bruyne, he could win a seventh Ballon d'Or, which would be incredible."

Lionel Messi's father claims quotes attributed to his son in the Argentinian media about a potential move from Barcelona to Manchester City are false.

Messi rocked Barca on Tuesday when he informed them of his desire to leave the club that he signed for as a 12-year-old.

The 33-year-old Barca captain is said to have a clause in his deal that allows him to leave on a free transfer at the end of the 2019-20 campaign.

It was required to be activated before the end of May but, due to the season being extended into August amid the coronavirus pandemic, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has told the Catalan giants he still intends to make use of it.

City appear to have emerged as the front-runners due to the presence of former Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola, as well as their riches, with media reports in Argentina seemingly increasingly confident Messi will move to the Premier League.

Those stories intensified on Wednesday when Argentinian publication La Nacion published quotes it said were from Messi confirming the joint-decision with his wife to leave Barca, while also opting for City next.

However, the Barca talisman's father – who is also his agent – is adamant the quotes were fake and the work of a Messi imitator.

Alongside a screenshot of the story, Jorge Messi wrote on his Instagram story: "Hi La Nacion, this is fake. This confession does not exist, it's the audio of an imitator."

La Nacion hit back by claiming to have "never cited the existence of audio, but obtained the information from a source that is related to the player".

Lionel Messi looks set to leave Barcelona and a select few clubs are preparing to make a move.

Manchester City? Paris Saint-Germain? Inter?

Keep an eye on this saga…

 

TOP STORY – PSG TALKING TO MESSI

Paris Saint-Germain have opened talks with wantaway Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, according to Ole.

Messi has handed in a transfer request at Barca, and the six-time Ballon d'Or winner has already been linked with Manchester City, Manchester United, Inter, Juventus and PSG.

The frontpage of Thursday's Mundo Deportivo claims City are circling to bring Messi to the Premier League with the 33-year-old believed to be keen on reuniting with former Barca boss Pep Guardiola. Meanwhile, Marca claims City have offered a three-year deal.

However, Ligue 1 champions PSG are also eyeing Messi as they look to add him to a squad that already boasts former team-mate Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

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- Fabrizio Romano reports Inter have re-opened talks with Barca for midfielder Arturo Vidal. Antonio Conte, who will remain Inter head coach in 2020-21, wants to bring the Chilean to San Siro.

- It comes as Gazzetta dello Sport reports Inter have struck a deal to sign Brescia star Sandro Tonali. Milan have also been eyeing the Italy midfielder.

- Serie A champions Juventus are set to sign Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, says Sky Sport Italia. The United States international is poised to arrive on loan with the option to buy. Juve have also been linked with Sassuolo's Manuel Locatelli.

Manchester United are still chasing Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish, according to the Daily Mail. Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho has been United's top priority, though the Red Devils remain in contact with Villa over a potential transfer.

- Sport Bild says Liverpool will make an approach for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara in the coming days.

Milan are poised to sign Real Madrid's Brahim Diaz on loan, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Brahim has struggled for game time since arriving from City in 2019.

- Signing Lazio star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is a priority for PSG, claims Le10 Sport. The Serbia international has previously been linked with Madrid, United, Juve, Inter and Chelsea.

Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona and Cesar Luis Menotti would like to see him play for Manchester City or Bayern Munich.

Six-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi told Barca on Tuesday he wants to leave and it is believed he intends to use a clause in his contract that allows him to terminate their agreement following the 2019-20 season.

City, where former Barca boss Pep Guardiola is in charge, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter have been touted as potential next destinations for the 33-year-old.

The Catalan giants have expressed a desire to keep Messi at Camp Nou, but Menotti, who led Argentina to World Cup glory in 1978 and coached Barca between 1983 and 1984, would not be averse to seeing him play elsewhere.

"I have not spoken with him, he must be deciding the issue [of his future]," Menotti told TNT Sports.

"From what I hear, there could also be legal action. It is the first time that I have seen a conflict of this type with a footballer who has given Barcelona more than anyone in its history.

"If you ask me which team I want him to play for, I would like him to play at Bayern Munich, or with Pep as they know each other and have won so many things.

"But is not easy for a family like his to live in Manchester or Munich. Any big team with aspirations will find in Messi a footballer in a very good moment. He's had no injuries, he always took care of himself."

Manchester City have refused to comment on reports linking them with wantaway Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Messi sent shockwaves through world football when he informed Barca via burofax on Tuesday that he wanted to leave, putting several clubs on high alert.

A reunion with Pep Guardiola at City has been mooted, but the club declined to comment when contacted by Stats Perform News. It is believed they do not want to take a public position on such a high-profile story.

Guardiola has previously stated his belief that Messi would, and indeed should, see out his career at Camp Nou, where he is the all-time leading goalscorer.

"He is a player from Barcelona and he will stay there, that's my wish for him to stay there," he said in February.

"I'm not going to talk about players playing for other clubs. I think he will finish his career there, that's my wish."

However, the notion that Guardiola would turn down the chance to sign arguably the world's greatest player following a season in which his side lost out to Liverpool in the Premier League, and again failed in the Champions League, seems absurd.

With his reputation at Barca still firmly intact following a fine playing career and a spell at the helm during which the club were twice crowned champions of Europe, Guardiola will not want to be seen to be actively pursuing Messi.

That would explain any outward reticence, but it is unlikely the Etihad Stadium club would not be considering an approach.

Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak has only recently outlined a new transfer policy expanding the club's search beyond the usual age range of 20- to 25-year-olds, putting a 33-year-old Messi firmly on the agenda.

City are not the only club to have been linked to Messi, with Champions League runners-up and fellow financial heavyweights Paris Saint-Germain said to be in the mix, along with Inter.

Staying at Barca remains an option, but Messi is clearly unhappy and there has been no indication that Josep Maria Bartomeu is willing to step aside, with the president having overseen a staffing overhaul that brought Ronald Koeman to the helm this month.

Quite what the Dutchman will be making of this transfer saga in the early days of his reign is anyone's guess.

With or without Messi, Koeman has a rebuilding job on his hands, the scale of which was underlined by Barca's humiliating 8-2 Champions League loss to Bayern Munich, a result that probably hastened the talisman's decision to send that now famous fax.

Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona, but where will he go?

Manchester United, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus are possible destinations.

But, both Manchester clubs are believed to be targeting the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED EYE MESSI, BUT LIONEL WANTS CITY

Manchester United are in position to sign wantaway Barcelona captain Lionel Messi, according to Deportes Cuatro.

Messi wants to sensationally leave embattled LaLiga giants Barca and United are reportedly one of the clubs capable of signing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

However, The Athletic claims neighbours Manchester City and Messi have held talks, with the superstar open to playing for Pep Guardiola again.

Paris Saint-Germain, Inter and Juventus have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Telegraph reports Real Madrid outcast James Rodriguez is close to joining Everton. James has previously worked under Carlo Ancelotti at Bayern Munich and Madrid.

Chelsea will complete the signing of Leicester City full-back Ben Chilwell, says Fabrizio Romano. The transfer will be announced soon as Chelsea also look to bring in Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz and PSG captain Thiago Silva.

- Calciomercato claims Zlatan Ibrahimovic is close to signing a new deal with Milan. The 38-year-old is out of contract after returning to Milan for a second spell in January.

Barca want City's Gabriel Jesus to replace veteran forward Luis Suarez, according to Globo Esporte. Suarez has been told he can leave Camp Nou, and former club Ajax are reportedly trying to re-sign the Uruguayan.

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