Lionel Messi and coach Pep Guardiola enjoyed great success together at Barcelona
Lionel Messi and coach Pep Guardiola enjoyed great success together at Barcelona Image Credit: Reuters

Apparently Manchester City remain interested in signing Barcelona’s Lionel Messi when he becomes a free agent in the summer. An attractive retirement package with New York City could lure Argentine to Manchester.

It would be a bold move, and would certainly put City even more so on the global map. But to get the ageing star (he will be 34 when contract talks begin) into the massively competitive English Premier League when he is on the wane may put a blot in his almost perfect copy book.

Money aside, for the benefit of both parties this needs more consideration.

Messi has reportedly asked for guarantees, including the assurance that star striker Sergio Aguero and manager Pep Guardiola will both be on the payroll when he arrives at the Etihad.

Neither are a given as — despite being the all-time top scorer — Aguero has been injury-plagued in recent seasons and may call time on his glittering career. Guardiola’s position is under scrutiny as City have faltered from their dominant position and relinquished the English title to Liverpool last season.

Then there is the wage bill ... Messi may come on a free but his pay will break records. Given City’s recent run-in with the Uefa Financial Fair Play beaks, to bring in a player on astronomical — no galactical — salary will raise eyebrows, regardless of how many shirts he sells.

City have a target on their back after defeating Uefa in the courts over FFP and any further infringement will be pounced upon by rival teams, the UK media and — possibly — Uefa themselves.

You never know, it may turn out to be a perfect marriage, but there are still many more questions than answers right now.

After a public fall-out with the Barcelona chiefs following a humiliating 8-2 thuming at the hands of Bayern Munich, Messi looked set for a 2020 move to Manchester and handed in a transfer request. But that was rejected and a legal loophole (including a very expensive release clause) meant he reluctantly still plies his trade for the Catalan club.