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Lionel Messi at centre of audacious plan, Chinese giants eye €700m Barcelona superstar

Chinese outfit Hebei Fortune have already signed Javier Mascherano and Ezequiel Lavezzi, now it’s claimed they want Lionel Messi too.

Clubs in the Chinese Super League splashed out significant amounts of money not so long ago, with a whole host of stars from Europe moving over to the Far East.

While in some instances it appeared as though it was a scrap just to bring in top names to not only improve the respective squads but also to build the popularity and strength of Chinese football as a whole, it’s been claimed that Hebei have a bigger plan in mind.

According to Mundo Deportivo, the CSL outfit signed both Mascherano and Lavezzi also with a view of convincing Messi to join them as he is said to enjoy a close relationship with the pair.

In turn, it could be seen as a crucial factor in persuading him that he could easily acclimatise to life in China with his friends around him, although Mundo Deportivo add that he does have a €700m release clause in his contract which would be an entirely separate problem.

Naturally, taking Messi to China would take football to a completely different level in the Far East, but at 30 years of age and as he continues to dazzle for the Catalan giants with 27 goals and 14 assists in 34 appearances in all competitions this season, it’s surely not the right time for him to leave to accept that challenge.

With major honours on offer this season and with Ernesto Valverde adding quality young players to his squad like Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina, Messi could even find himself leading a new cycle at the Nou Camp.

Meanwhile, a sentimental return to Argentina would also surely be an option in the latter stages of his career rather than a money-driven move to China regardless of whether or not his compatriots are there ready to welcome him.

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