Barcelona Set Price Tag as Lionel Messi Chooses Man City as Preferred Next Club

Jamie Spencer
Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona he wants to leave
Lionel Messi has informed Barcelona he wants to leave / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Lionel Messi ‘wants’ to join Manchester City following his formal communication to Barcelona that he wishes to leave Camp Nou this summer after 20 years with the club.

Messi’s future had been the subject of increasing speculation as a result of major frustrations over Barça’s failures, compounded by the humiliating 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Barcelona were humiliated by Bayern Munich in the Champions League
Barcelona were humiliated by Bayern Munich in the Champions League / Pool/Getty Images

That paved the way for a burofax informing the club of his desire to invoke a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for free. Barça argue that option expired in June.

His decision was even applauded on Twitter by both current teammate Luis Suarez, whose contract Barcelona are seeking to terminate a year early, and former captain Carles Puyol.

Inter have been tipped by their former chairman Massimo Moratti to make a move for Messi, while Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are rumoured to have been monitoring things. Manchester United have also been speculatively linked – they and Messi at least share a mutual partner in adidas.

Manchester City, meanwhile, have been weighing up the costs of making an approach, having long been linked with the Argentine for a number of years already.

According to Esporte Interativo’s Marcelo Bechler, who initially reported on Messi’s intentions to leave Camp Nou this summer 10 days ago and was famously the first with information on Neymar’s move from Barcelona to PSG in 2017, claims that Messi has decided he wants to join City.

That would mean a reunion with former Barça coach Pep Guardiola, whose influence helped transform Messi into one of the best players of all time.

It is said that Messi likes the way that City play, an attacking, possession-based style that mimics how Barça used to operate in their Guardiola heyday between 2008 and 2012.

Pep Guardiola is a big lure for Messi at Man City
Pep Guardiola is a big lure for Messi at Man City / Pool/Getty Images

However, as yet, it is not known whether City or Barcelona will be able to come to an agreement over a transfer. The latter will seek a transfer fee - AS reports they want at least €222m - as they believe the infamous clause allowing Messi to trigger a free transfer at his will is no longer active.

With the Barça hierarchy expected to stand firm on Messi's exit clause, expect a legal wrangle this summer. Meanwhile, some local reports have suggested that the six-time Ballon d'Or winner's bombshell has prompted club president Josep Maria Bartomeu to consider resigning.

Bechler notes that Messi’s biggest reason for wanting to leave Camp Nou after all these years is a perceived lacked of a serious and winning sporting project at the very highest level.

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