Manchester City are reportedly confident they’re at the front of the queue for the transfer of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.
This is according to a report from the Telegraph, which also cites quotes from Barca presidential candidate Agusti Benedito to ESPN, in which he casts major doubt over Messi’s future at the Nou Camp.
“Keeping Messi would be the best news for the club but I am not very optimistic,” Benedito said.
“Given the club’s situation, I think it’s really important that he stays at Barca, with the understanding that he understands the next two years we have in front us [could be difficult].
“He’s been here for 20 years – he’s a Barcelona fan and I think he’s sensitive to the situation.
“He has given us so much in the same way that Barcelona have given him a lot and it’s time for us all to roll up our sleeves.
“I would have liked him to say in his interview the other week that his desire is to stay at the club, but he didn’t and now we have to wait and see. The truth is I am pessimistic.
“Remember that in August he said he wanted to leave after 20 years and now he’s still not cleared up what he wants to do. The most likely outcome I see is that he leaves us in the summer.”
Messi would be an incredible signing for City if they can pull it off, with the Argentine widely regarded as perhaps the greatest player of all time.
Even if the 33-year-old has not been quite at his best so far this season and would be arriving in the twilight of his career, City surely wouldn’t say no to this big-name addition.
Messi enjoyed some of the best form of his career under City manager Pep Guardiola when he was in charge at Barcelona, and to see the pair reunited in the Premier League would be quite something.
Barcelona fans will surely be hoping these quotes from Benedito are overly pessimistic, and of course it’s worth noting that other presidential candidates may well feel differently or have a better strategy to persuade Messi to stay.