Manchester City Monitoring Messi

Lionel Messi

Manchester City are monitoring Lionel Messi’s public fallout with Barcelona and believe they would be in the running if the Argentina star decides to leave Camp Nou, sources have told ESPN.

Messi has been involved in a row with Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal over his claims players forced the dismissal of coach Ernesto Valverde.

The 32-year-old has a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave the club for free at the end of the season, although the full terms of the clause have not been made clear. Sources have told ESPN that while the clause is acknowledged, there is an acceptance on both sides Messi would not be allowed to leave for a rival, whether domestically or in the Champions League.

The Premier League holders privately admit his departure remains unlikely, but they would be interested if he decides to move either this summer or at the end of his current deal in 2021.

City maintain they would be at the head of the queue for Messi’s signature because of his strong relationship with director of football Txiki Begiristain, chief executive Ferran Soriano and manager Pep Guardiola.