Manchester City will not make a move for Lionel Messi until Barcelona agree he can leave, but there is a belief at the club they can make a transfer work in terms of Financial Fair Play.
That’s according to Mundo Deportivo, who provide an insight into how City are currently approaching the summer’s biggest transfer saga.
As you’ll be aware, Messi set the transfer window into overdrive last week when it became apparent he wanted to leave Barcelona this summer.
Manchester City were immediately named as the leaders in the race for his signature, and it was even claimed that Pep Guardiola has told the Argentine he will do everything in his power to get a deal over the line should he want it to happen.
The sticking point remains the transfer fee. Barça, who have made it clear Messi can’t leave, are insisting that Messi’s €700m release clause needs to be met for a transfer to happen.
La Liga has backed up that standpoint, but Messi believes the clause is still valid and he has a right to leave on a free as there is a clause in his contract which would allow him to do so.
The middle ground is that he and Barcelona agree on a lower transfer fee and everyone gets something from the deal, which of course where Manchester City would come in.
That agreement has to be made first, though, and Mundo Deportivo state that City have made it clear they will not get involved as long as Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu remains ‘inflexible’.
They don’t want an ‘open conflict’ with Barcelona over Messi and so want him to reach an agreement with the club for his transfer before making their move.
Thus there has been no offer, although Manchester City ‘know’ they are not going to get him on a free and will have to spend big to secure his signature.
They cannot, however, ‘throw the house out the window’ to get him given their recent brush with UEFA over FFP and so they are considering a €100m deal as viable, arguing that they have made €120m in profit over the last three years to cover.
A further argument being made by City chiefs is that having Messi associated with the City Football Group will bring in more income, further helping them to balance the books.
What is not being considered is the inclusion of several first-team starters to sweeten the deal for Barcelona after recent claims to the contrary.
Guardiola has reportedly ‘refused’ to include Gabriel Jesus, Kevin de Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez or Bernardo Silva, although they would be open to letting Angeliño and Eric Garcia, both of whom Barça have their eye on, be used as makeweights.
For now, though, it rests on Bartomeu. If he refuses to negotiate with Messi, City won’t make their move, with them instead waiting in the background to see what happens.