Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi spoke on the phone just last week to discuss the possibility of the Argentine forward joining Manchester City this summer, according to reports.
Messi shocked Barcelona on Tuesday when he informed the club of his intention to leave, despite still having a contract until 2021. Barca responded by asking him to stay at Camp Nou.
According to ESPN, Manchester City have been looking at the possibility of signing Messi without breaching Financial Fair Play rules. And the player wants to join the club.
City have deemed the transfer impossible in previous transfer windows, but several sources have confirmed that they are now optimistic after Guardiola’s talk with Messi last week.
The two spent four years together at Barcelona between 2008 and 2012, and Guardiola spoke to Messi about the project that awaits him in the Premier League if he decides to make the move.
The telephone conversation took place some days after Barcelona suffered a disappointing exit from the Champions League when they lost 8-2 to Bundesliga side Bayern Munich.
However, City also made a shocking early exit from the European competition, losing 3-1 to the French team Lyon at the same stage.
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It is also reported that high-ranking executives at City spoke with the Messi camp recently, and they were aware that he had doubts about staying at Barca even before the Bayern debacle.
After Messi revealed his desire to leave Barca on Tuesday, City will decide if they have the money to make the deal possible without breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, which have been loosened because of the coronavirus crisis.
City won their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the reported financial fair play violations on July 13 and are free to play in the UEFA Champions League next campaign.
A major factor in the deal will be knowing if Messi can leave Barcelona for free or if City will have to negotiate down his €700m release clause.
Messi hopes to execute a clause written into his current contract, signed in 2017, that allows him to leave the club for free, unilaterally, at the end of each campaign.