Lionel Messi has joked Barcelona could sign all of Manchester City’s squad if their two-year Champions League ban stands. The Blues were punished with a suspension from Europe’s premier competition and hit with a £25million (€30m) fine for allegedly breaking Uefa’s financial rules and regulations.
The rest of the world is following the case with added interest as it could set a dangerous precedent for the remaining clubs who heavily invest in their squads.
It may also lead to a number of high-profile exits at the Etihad Stadium.
Raheem Sterling is one of a handful of players who have committed their future to City regardless of their Champions League fate.
But there are some stars, like Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, who may have their heads turned.
“It is surprising because nobody thought that such a thing could happen, so powerful,” Messi told Spanish publication Mundo Deportivo.
“Paris paid a fine or I don’t know how it went. If in the end the City does not play the Champions League for what it is, with the players, the club and the money it spends it will be weird.
“I do not know, but if the City does not enter the Champions League there are many players who may look for an exit or perhaps not.
“The Champions League is very pretty but two years without playing it can be screwed.”
City are through to the last-16 of the Champions League this season where they take on Real Madrid next week.
And Messi sees their La Liga side as one of Barcelona’s closest challenger for the trophy.
“All are complicated and difficult,” the 32-year-old said of the remaining teams in the tournament.
“Paris went to play Dortmund and lost, Liverpool went to the Atletico field and lost.
“But I think, like that and everything, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris and Madrid are the strongest today.”