Manchester City have reportedly spoken to Lionel Messi's father, Jorge Messi, about the possibility of his son joining the club next summer, while Jonny Evans is said to be expecting to sign in a £30 million deal.
Per Dan King at The Sun, City director of football Txiki Begiristain and Messi Sr. have met to discuss a possible move, although the report warns "any deal would be difficult and have to wait until at least next summer."
As Goal's Ben Hayward noted, Messi has still not signed the contract extension Barcelona announced early in July and will be a free agent next summer unless he does:
Ben Hayward @bghayward
So Messi still hasn't signed the new Barça contract announced in July and his current deal is up in 2018... https://t.co/MtA16CdqiN #FCBlive https://t.co/ppBzp4AWny2017-8-17 13:11:10
However, Sky Sports' Guillem Balague said that despite the delay, the deal is all agreed and Messi will put pen to paper:
Guillem Balague @GuillemBalague
Messi has not signed his new contract with FCB. But it is all agreed and WILL sign it https://t.co/Z4Q7C1cZJY2017-8-20 19:20:38
Neymar's departure means Messi is even more crucial to Barcelona, particularly in light of the club's failure to land their Javier Giraldo of Sport-reported top targets of Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.
Hayward feels that the Barcelona team is the weakest the Camp Nou has seen for many years:
Ben Hayward @bghayward
This is the worst Barcelona team since 2007-08...2017-8-16 21:42:39
City boss Pep Guardiola was asked about Messi in light of recent speculation about the Argentinian's future and said he would not be surprised if a club activated his buyout clause, per Sam Lee at Goal:
Sam Lee @Sammy_Goal
Guardiola was asked if the transfer market is mad and £300m for Messi is reasonable. "If somebody has the money they'll pay it."2017-8-21 21:37:57
While there is clearly a delay in Messi signing his new deal, it would still be a surprise if he did not extend his deal, having previously told Tencent Sports he wants to retire at Barcelona (h/t MailOnline's Sam Morshead).
According to Nursey, West Brom have already rejected an £18 million bid. Evans has yet to feature for the club this season because of injury, as noted by Paul Suart at the Birmingham Mail:
Paul Suart @PaulSuartWBA
No Evans on the team bus. Make of that what you will. Pulis insists he has a hamstring injury and that he would be playing if fit. #wba2017-8-19 12:30:31
Guardiola has already strengthened his defence this summer, bringing in Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo. James Ducker at the Daily Telegraph recently highlighted why he feels Evans would be a good option for City:
James Ducker @TelegraphDucker
Jonny Evans would be a good signing for City. Good on the ball, great awareness, physically strong, PL proven. And, at 29, still underrated2017-8-16 17:00:05
A Premier League and FIFA Club World Cup winner with Manchester United, Evans is comfortable on the ball, a must for a Guardiola defender. WhoScored.com highlighted another of his strengths:
Jonny Evans: Only two players have won possession in the defensive third more times than Evans (267) in the last 3 Premier League seasons https://t.co/FGOD2B0F5j2017-8-17 10:30:02
Guardiola has clearly identified City's defence as the main area in his squad that needs strengthening, and Evans' arrival would bring experience and provide competition for Vincent Kompany, John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi at centre-back.