Lionel Messi might already have a destination in mind after making the Earth-shaking decision to ask out of FC Barcelona on Tuesday.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner favors Manchester City as the setting of the next chapter of his career, according to Marcelo Bechler of Esporte Interativo. The Athletic has also reported that Messi would be “keen” on a move to Manchester City.
Per ESPN, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola spoke with Messi on the phone last week about a potential move to Manchester. Manchester City has reportedly been crunching the numbers to figure out how to add Messi without breaching Financial Fair Play rules, and is growing optimistic about the prospect.
Manchester City fans need no introduction to FFP, as the club received a two-year Champions League ban due to such rules. The ban has since been overturned, aiding the club’s pursuit of Messi.
Fight brewing between Messi and Barcelona
How much Messi’s wishes matter amid a potential divorce could be up to the lawyers, as a legal battle appears to be brewing between Barcelona and their disgruntled star. At issue is whether or not Messi is allowed to exercise his right to unilaterally vacate the final year of his contract.
It seems that Messi opting out, or not, will become a matter of legal wrangling. The deadline to do so was apparently May 31, when the season would ordinarily have ended. Messi and his camp seem to consider the actual date immaterial, since it was intended to mark the end of the club season. Since the season has just ended, they reason, he is free to walk. Barcelona, on the other hand, will see the May date as a hard deadline, regardless of the pandemic-induced three-month interruption to the season and have responded that they consider Messi’s opt-out clause to have expired.
If Messi is successful, the path to Manchester or wherever else he might want appears clear. If not, there could even more politicking to be done as Barcelona tries to figure out a future without the player that has carried it for more than a decade.
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