Manchester City could renew their efforts to sign Lionel Messi when the transfer window reopens in January.
Messi communicated his desire to leave Barcelona in the summer, believing a clause in his contract entitled him to depart on a free transfer.
City emerged as the likeliest destination for the Argentina international, who has spent his entire career to date at the Camp Nou.
In the end, however, Barcelona dug in their heels and refused to sanction Messi’s departure unless one of his many suitors triggered the 33-year-old’s £630 million buyout clause.
That ended City’s hopes of pulling off what would have been one of the most audacious transfers of all time.
However, the club still believe they have a chance of bringing Messi to the Etihad Stadium and could launch another move in January, according to the Daily Star.
The Barcelona captain is out of contract next summer and remains disillusioned with the regime of president Josep Bartomeu at the Camp Nou.
Messi currently earns around £64 million a year at Barcelona and most clubs would struggle to afford his mammoth wages.
City still expect to face competition for his signature, though, and they may therefore look to steal a march on their rivals by offering £15 million for Messi in January.
Barcelona would almost certainly rebuff any offers for their star man in the middle of the season, but a formal bid would stand as a statement of intent from City ahead of the summer.
Paris Saint-Germain would no doubt explore the possibility of bringing Messi to the Parc des Princes, while Barcelona can also expect interest from clubs in MLS.
But City hope that their financial muscle, together with the presence of Guardiola in the dugout, will put them in pole position to sign one of the greatest players in football history.
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