Manchester City are prepared to take advantage of Lionel Messi’s contract stand-off at Barcelona by lodging a £358million bid for his services in January, according to reports in Spain.
Barcelona announced earlier this summer that Messi had signed a new contract at the Nou Camp, extending his stay until 2021.
However Spanish outlet AS report that the deal remains in doubt despite Barcelona’s announcement and there are still a number of loose ends to tie up.
As it stands, Messi’s Barcelona deal is due to run out this summer meaning that clubs are free to negotiate with him as early as January.
And according to the Madrid-based newspaper, City are ready to pounce amid the uncertainty with a £358m offer for Messi in the next transfer window.
Sources close to City have reportedly held ‘serious conversations with the player’s inner circle’ over a potential move, which would see Messi reunite with his former manager Pep Guardiola.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu told reporters earlier this summer that Messi’s extension was confirmed, saying: ‘Everything is signed. There is no need to worry’.
The Catalan giants will be desperate to hang on to their talisman after seeing Neymar leave in a £198m transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in August.
Messi is currently with the Argentina squad ahead of their crucial World Cup qualifier against Ecuador in the early hours of Wednesday morning, which will determine whether or not they qualify for Russia.
Argentina sit sixth in the South American qualifying section, one place off the play-off spot after a disappointing goalless draw with Peru in Buenos Aires.
The 30-year-old has begun the domestic season in top form with 14 goals in his opening 11 matches in all competitions for Barcelona, who have won all their matches so far.