Juventus reportedly made a "discreet approach" to Jorge Messi, the father of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, to discuss the possibility of a blockbuster transfer that could link up Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the two greatest football players of their generation.
James Whaling of the Daily Mirror reported Saturday that the Bianconeri are the latest club to join a star-studded race for the Argentina captain's services that also features Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan.
City have been viewed as the favorites to land the six-time Ballon d'Or winner since rumors of discontent emerged following Barca's trophyless season, and ESPN reported on Friday that the Premier League club is "confident" in its ability to land the forward if the La Liga side are willing to negotiate.
The situation is complicated by Barcelona's apparent disinterest to lose their captain.
Sporting director Ramon Planes said the club wants Messi to stay as it rebuilds the squad following a disappointing year:
In addition, the sides are at odds about the terms of the 33-year-old's contract.
Messi believes he's eligible to leave on a free transfer as part of a clause that allowed for that at the conclusion of the season, but Barca are standing firm that he needed to opt out when the campaign was scheduled to end in June before being extended by the coronavirus pandemic, per Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens.
If a club is forced to pay both Messi's wage bill and a transfer fee to Barcelona, it might make any move financially implausible.
Nevertheless, the potential to see Messi and Ronaldo roaming the attacking third together is the type of dream scenario that's often reserved for video games.
They were long-time rivals in La Liga before Ronaldo left Real Madrid to join Juventus. In January, the Barca legend recognized the special nature of their numerous head-to-head battles over the years during an appearance on DAZN (via Sam Blitz of the Daily Mail).
"Competing on an equal footing for so many years, I think it will remain forever," Messi said. "The sporting duel between us was very nice on a personal level, and I think people had fun too, whether it was from Madrid or from Barca or even only football fans in general."
He added: "It was a special duel, and it will remain forever because it lasted many years. And it is not easy to maintain certain levels for a long time."
Now the question is whether their rivalry will transform into a must-see partnership at Juve.