Mike McGrath, writing in The Telegraph, says that “Manchester City will have the chance to offer Lionel Messi a pre-contract as talks over staying at Barcelona are set for later in the season.”
That is, Messi will be free to talk to interested clubs in January while his Barcelona future remains up in the air – which will give Manchester City a new chance to tempt the Argentine into making the move to the Premier League.
The Argentine’s current deal at the Nou Camp expires at the end of this season following a tumultuous summer during which he expressed his desire to leave.
City, who are currently being coached by former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, were the frontrunners to land Messi, but the Catalan giants stood firm and insisted he could only leave if his £625million release clause was paid in full.
In the summer, Messi confessed that he wanted to leave Barcelona. And, while he did not name Manchester City as his preferred destination, it was widely reported that it was indeed Pep Guardiola’s side who had convinced Messi to leave Spain.
Although Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu recently resigned – it was the president’s shambolic running of the club which, it was believed, had persuaded Messi that it was in his best interests to leave the club. It remains unclear if that will be enough to convince the Barcelona star to commit to the club beyond this season.
But, according to the Telegraph, those conversations will not happen until later in the campaign, with the presidential elections set to take place in March which would allow Messi to enter into talks with other clubs from January over a move which may see his two-decade association with the Blaugrana come to an end
Omar Berrada, City’s chief operating officer, recently confirmed the club still hold an interest in luring Messi to the Etihad.