Football: Man City preparing staggering $352m bid for Lionel Messi

FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi looks on during a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi, Spain. Photo / AP.
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi looks on during a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despi, Spain. Photo / AP.

English Premier League side Manchester City are reportedly preparing a staggering $352 million offer to sign FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi next summer.

Britain's Sunday Mirror says Manchester City are prepared to pay Messi a basic wage of £881,000 per week.

The story says the Blues believe their appointment of Messi's former Barca boss Pep Guardiola as manager last summer would put them in pole position to sign Messi.

Barcelona still have to convince the Argentine star to renew his contract, which expires in 2018.

With Messi in contract limbo at Barcelona after reportedly rejecting their latest offer, City are growing in confidence at signing the 29-year-old, especially with their trio of Pep Guardiola, Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano all working with the Argentine at the Nou Camp in the past.

Messi missed Saturday's 0-0 draw with Malaga through illness, and The Mirror reports that City are putting together the bid to tempt him to England where he will become the world's highest-paid player, overtaking Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo who signed a new contract last week.

The report claims that City are willing to offer a fee of over £100m to Barcelona to part with the five-time Ballon d'Or winner, and when his wages and additional bonuses are taking into account, City will have to fork out over £200m to complete the deal.

Messi has a £215m buy-out clause in his contract that expires in 2018, but with the club and player at a stalemate in negotiations, the Catalan side fear he could reach the summer with just 12 months remaining on his deal. That would lead to the club facing a huge dilemma in that they would have to sell Messi or risk losing a potential £100m-plus player for nothing, or bow to his demands and give him the contract that he desires.

City are one of few clubs who are able to cater to Messi's demands and, along with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United, would be able to tempt Barcelona into selling the Argentina international if he reaches next summer with no new deal in sight.

United have already shown their intent in flexing their financial fire-power to sign world-record signing Paul Pogba this year for £89m, although reports suggest that the club would not rivals City to sign Messi if it were to cost as much as £200m.

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