Manchester City are ready to admit defeat in their bid to lure Lionel Messi to the Premier League next season after being told he has got no plans to leave Barcelona. Messi had a training ground bust-up with Barca director of football Eric Abidal and reacted publicly to the Frenchman’s criticism of the squad during Ernesto Valverde’s final weeks at the Nou Camp, which has led to suggestions he will quit the club this summer.
Messi, who thrived under City boss Pep Guardiola at Barcelona, has got an option written into his agreement that allows him to activate a clause that gives him the chance to leave for nothing.
The reigning Premier League champions are one of the few clubs in European football who could afford to match his £600,000-a-week wages.
And they have been quick to enquire if the Argentinian superstar is serious about leaving Barca, who have been beset by a series of problems on and off the pitch this season.
But Express Sport understands City have been told by Messi’s advisors that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has got no plans to leave Barcelona for this summer.
Messi could, however, opt to end his career elsewhere after seeing out the final 12 months of his current contract, which expires in 2021.
Abidal, who Messi accused of sullying the image of the whole Barcelona squad, is hopeful, though, of tying down the club talisman to a new deal.
“The question is for him, hopefully it continues,” Abidal said. “Leo said that Barca is everything for him, that he wants to stay here, from there there are conditions.
“We are talking about the best player in the world and having a renewal with such a player is never easy.”
Messi has previously spoken of his eagerness to one day return to his homeland with Newell’s Old Boys, where he played as a youngster before being lured to Barcelona.
The 32-year-old admitted, however, that it would be a wretch to uproot his family, with his kids all having been born and raised in Spain.
“I always say that I don’t want to leave here, I have no thoughts of moving,” said Messi last October. “I have the dream of being able to play for Newell’s in Argentina, but I don’t know if it’s really going to happen because I have a family that is ahead of my desire.
“It’s a dream I’ve had since I was little, but I have a family, I have three children, I live in a place that has given me everything and where I am calm and can give my children a spectacular future.
“We think much more about that than my desire of playing football in Argentina. I will try to convince the family, because today we have to convince the children too.”