Manchester City believe they could sign Barcelona forward Lionel Messi for less than £50m when the January transfer window opens, according to reports in England.
Barca are £400m+ in debt, with the impact of the global health crisis having a massive effect on their finances, and they can ill afford to let one of their prized assets leave for nothing at the end of the season.
Messi’s current deal at the Camp Nou expires at the end of June and he has no intention of renewing his contract after falling out with the club’s hierarchy over the summer.
The Citizens failed in their attempts to snap him up for free at the start of the season, with Messi opting to stay rather than get involved in a legal battle, but Barca’s stance on his transfer could well change in the New Year.
Messi’s signing could also persuade manager Pep Guardiola into remaining at the Etihad Stadium, with the 49-year-old yet to be convinced about extending his stay beyond the end of the season.