Etihad bosses have made signing the Argentine ace for Pep Guardiola their No 1 priority this summer
February 19, 2017: Etihad bosses have made signing the Argentine ace for Pep Guardiola their No 1 priority this summer.
And Cityâ€™s confidence that they can seal a world-record Â£100million deal for the five-time world player of the year has received a double boost in recent days.
Messiâ€™s father, Jorge, who acts as his sonâ€™s adviser, is in Barcelona to look after business â€“ but has no plans to talk to the club about extending a contract that now has less than 16 months to run.
Itâ€™s a situation that will reach crisis point this summer if the stalemate hasnâ€™t been broken.
After handing new deals to Neymar and Luis Suarez, Barca will struggle to hand Messi an increase on his current wages and stay within the boundaries of La Ligaâ€™s salary restrictions.
Clubs cannot spend more than 70 percent of their income on wages â€“ and Messi already earns Â£20million-a-year after tax.
Barcelonaâ€™s 4-0 Champions League humbling at the hands of Paris St Germain last Tuesday has also raised optimism in Manchester that Messi will seek a new challenge.
Nou Camp chiefs are aware that they are approaching the end of an era and that a major team restructure is required.
With Messiâ€™s 30th birthday approaching, he is running out of time to add to his four Champions League medals.
In Spain Messi is reported as keen to link-up again with Guardiola, based on attempts to lure the coach back to the Nou Camp.
City are confident that will not happen. They are certain that Guardiola will honour the remaining two-and-a-half years of his contract â€“ and now expect him to stay beyond 2019.
The message to Messi is that if he wants to play for Pep again then he will have to move to Manchester.
The eight-time La Liga champion got a close-up view of how City have developed in recent years.
Barcelona beat City on five successive occasions in the Champions League â€“ each time after the opposition had a man sent off.
But when the teams last met in November, it was City who prevailed 3-1 despite falling behind to Messiâ€™s first-half strike.
Sunday Mirror Sport reported in November that City had drawn up a financial plan that would see Messi paid a basic wage of Â£500,000-a-week.
But the club are also prepared to revisit that outline now that kind of salary is seen as the going rate in the cash-rich Chinese Super League.