Manchester City? The world scratches its head as it was revealed the less famous of the two teams in Manchester, U.K., is bidding for one of the world’s most famous soccer stars, Lionel Messi.
“SunSport understands that initial talks were positive,” British daily The Sun wrote Friday.
If the report turns out to be true, Messi has been offered the amazing sum of 800,000 pounds (US$1.2 million) per week in what would be a US$60 million a year deal.
According to The Sun, Messi’s representatives held “initial discussions” with Man. City about the deal that would be split between a US$48 million salary and US$12 million in image rights and bonuses.
The Guardian’s Gregg Bakowski, likening the immense sum to “the GDP of a small nation,” also explored the idea that Messi going to City might reunite him with Pep Guardiola, the former Barca manager under whom Messi’s career flourished.
“A Spanish radio station reckons that Pep, who is in the final year of his Bayern Munich contract and has yet to sign an extension, has already agreed to join City,” he writes, although ESPN said he may also have recevied an offer from Barca rivals Real Madrid.
The news comes the week after rumors surfaced that Messi was considering a transfer to Arsenal, another Premier League team, for a salary of US$27 million, which now seems measly in comparison to Man. City’s alleged offering.
The Argentine star, who has played in Spain for 11 years, apparently feels slighted by Barca’s decision to prioritize the renewal of his teammate Neymar’s contract over his.
Messi’s US$750,000-a-week deal at Barca ends in 2018 and carries a hefty US$375 million buy-out clause. However, The Sun reports that the Catalonian team might be open to offers at a “more realistic” US$180 million to bag the star, who has won the Ballon D’Or four times and has been named UEFA player of the year twice.
Another draw for Messi might be the ex-Barca execs now at Manchester — Chief Executive Ferran Soriano and Director Txiki Begiristain—who have a “strong relationship” with Messi and his father, who is also his agent. The father-son team are currently facing tax evasion charges in Spain, which may be another driver of his decision to go elsewhere.
The Sun reports that City could make a play for Messi thanks to an injection of cash from a US$225-million-a-season TV deal due to start next year.
Happier times? Messi’s first “official” goal for Barca: