If Neymar Jr’s move to Paris St Germain took the world by surprise, the prospect of Lionel Messi leaving the Camp Nou is earth-shattering.
According to Spanish daily AS, that may happen. Manchester City are in serious talks with the Argentine maestro’s “inner circle” over the possibility of taking the world’s greatest footballer to the Etihad.
The claims emerged from “sources close to the Premier League club” but with a new contract remaining unsigned, there are just 80 days before Barcelona are powerless to stop Messi from talking to foreign clubs.
Yet a little over three months ago, Barcelona declared the deal was agreed, aside from minor details, and crucially, signed. It’s now emerging that pen has not been put to paper and that Lionel Messi can walk away from the Catalan capital on a Bosman next summer.
While outwardly the club is calm, fans will become edgier and more nervous the longer this situation continues.
In the Blaugrana’s favour is an apparent reluctance on the part of his wife to uproot their family. However, is that because of the lifestyle she enjoys or is the prospect of moving to Manchester understandably daunting. Would the same objection be heard if a London club came in with an offer, for example?
Not that many clubs could prise Messi from Barcelona before then. January would see the Catalans command a record-breaking fee for the player with AS claiming a bid of €400m has been mentioned.
The FFP regulations would be severely tested by a fee of that level. UEFA, already under pressure over PSG’s signing of Neymar Jr and the loan of Kylian Mbappe, would find themselves collapsing under the weight of demands to punish City for an obvious breach which would require the harshest of sanctions lest the rules be permanently diminished.