Lionel Messi is expected to miss Barcelona’s mandatory pre-season fitness tests today in a clear indication that he will not return to play for the club. According to reports, he is desperate to sign for Manchester City this summer and will do everything in his power to force the move through.
Messi is still at war with Barcelona over his release clause and subsequent exit from the club.
The Argentine believes he can walk away for free, while the club feels any interested team will have to pay £636million.
Messi is due to return to pre-season training today for medical assessments, including having a Covid-19 test along with the rest of the team, but he has reportedly decided he won’t attend in order to force a move away.
Messi has already told new boss Ronald Koeman that he wants to be sold this summer, with City believed to be his most likely destination.
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City have put aside £150m to sign him, as well as another £70m for his contract.
Messi is yet to speak publicly on his potential exit, and hasn’t given any indication over how he’s feeling – other than his faxed transfer request.
But with Barca’s players set to return to training today, it will be a massive blow to the La Liga side’s chances of keeping him if he doesn’t return.
Reports from Spain on Saturday also suggested that the release clause in his contract (£636m) has expired, meaning City could actually end up getting a slight discount on him.
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Meanwhile, former Liverpool player Danny Murphy claimed Messi would instantly make City favourites for the title ahead of his old team.
He wrote for the Daily Mail: “He could play down the middle, free to roam where he wants or as one of the three behind, where Silva played.
“City’s movement is so fluid and Messi so good that it does not really matter.
“I imagine Guardiola can see the rotations in his head when he sleeps!
“And, yes, Messi could still do it on a cold Tuesday night at West Brom.
“I had tipped Liverpool to retain their Premier League title because they have nothing to fix.
“Man City certainly do. But if they sign Messi, City become favourites for the title.
“That’s how big his impact would be.”
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