Manchester City are confident of winning the race to sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona, according to reports.
The Argentina international is into the final six months of his contract at the Camp Nou.
As such, Messi is now free to negotiate a potential summer switch with non-Spanish sides.
City (opens in new tab) were linked with a move for the forward ahead of the start of the season, but in the end Messi stayed put in Catalonia.
The Argentine is poised to delay a decision on his future until the end of the season, and the outcome of Barcelona’s presidential elections on January 24 could influence his choice.
City are said to be putting a plan in place to try and entice Messi to the Etihad Stadium.
The City Football Group could offer the six-time Ballon d’Or winner a long-term deal which would see him represent both Manchester City and their MLS sister side, New York City.
Barcelona presidential candidate Agusti Benedito admitted earlier this week (opens in new tab) that he is “not very optimistic” that Messi will extend his stay at the Camp Nou.
"Keeping Messi would be the best news for the club but I am not very optimistic," Benedito told ESPN (opens in new tab).
"Given the club's situation, I think it's really important that he stays at Barca, with the understanding that he understands the next two years we have in front us [could be difficult].
"He's been here for 20 years; he's a Barcelona fan and I think he's sensitive to the situation. He has given us so much in the same way that Barcelona have given him a lot and it's time for us all to roll up our sleeves.
"I would have liked him to say in his interview the other week that his desire is to stay at the club, but he didn't and now we have to wait and see.
“The truth is I am pessimistic. Remember that in August he said he wanted to leave after 20 years and now he's still not cleared up what he wants to do. The most likely outcome I see is that he leaves us in the summer."
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