Man City could offer Lionel Messi pre-contact before he enters Barca contract talks
Manchester City are still alive here...
Remember those blissful two or three weeks in the summer when, thanks to Lionel Messi, the world *very nearly* forgot that it was collapsing in on itself?
After featuring in Barcelona's cataclysmic Champions League showing against Bayern Munich, Messi had made it abundantly clear that he wanted out of the Camp Nou, and, well, that was enough. All the other stuff humankind had been fretting over - global pandemics, actual maniacs having access to nuclear codes etc. - suddenly got pushed almost entirely out of the headlines for a bit. Where would he go next? (Manchester City). Which club could even begin to contemplate meeting his eye-wateringly high buyout clause? (Manchester City).
Of course, in the end, it didn't happen. Messi announced that, reluctantly, he would stay put, and the people of the world got back to arguing with strangers on Facebook about wearing masks in public or whatever it was they did with their time before.
Fast forward a couple of months and Josep Bartomeu, seen by many as the main obstacle to Messi finishing his career a one club man™, is now gone - announcing his resignation last month. The assumption was that the little Argentine would now sign another contract extension, and any lingering doubts that he might play for another club would be given a nice glass of warm milk and put to bed once and for all.
With Bartomeu now history, Barcelona do indeed plan to hold talks with Messi about a new deal. The problem, however, is that they only intend to do so after January, meaning Messi will likely receive an offer or two from elsewhere before any discussions begin.
Manchester City, The Telegraph point out, will be keen to exploit this having seemed extremely close to pulling off the mother of all transfer coups in the summer. The chance to work with Pep Guardiola again is certain to be tempting to Messi, too.
Barca's presidential elections, which take place next March, look to be a crucial event in deciding where he plies his trade next year. Even if City do make an offer that's difficult to resist, it's hard to imagine Messi making any definite calls until the future of his current club becomes clear.