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Lionel Messi Rumors: Manchester City Preparing 5-Year, €750M 'Mega' Contract

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2020

Barcelona's Lionel Messi looks on during the Champions League quarterfinal match between FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Portugal, Friday, Aug. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez/Pool)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi could be reunited at Manchester City, but it won't come cheap. 

According to Sport (h/t Marca), the Premier League giants are preparing a five-year, €750 million deal. The reported details are as follows:

"The report says this contract will be split into two periods—three years with City in the Premier League and two years with sister club New York City in MLS. Messi would earn 100 million euros a season before tax at City, with a total contract worth of 750 million euros over five years. The rest of the sum will be the 250 million euro signing bonus to join New York."

What remains in question is what transfer fee, if any, Barcelona will be able to obtain for Messi. The player has a €700 million release clause, though Messi has a stipulation in his contract that he could leave on a free transfer if he announced his intention to do so before May 31. 

Messi sent a burofax to announce his departure intentions after that date but argued he did so before the season ended, given that the campaign went on hiatus and resumed in the summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. His argument, in essence, is that the May 31 date became irrelevant once the season stretched well into the summer, since the date represented the original end of the season.  

Messi leaving on a free transfer would be devastating to Barca on a number of levels, while having a €700 million release clause would offer them far more leverage to keep him. La Liga ruled Sunday on behalf of Barcelona:

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Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Official statement by La Liga. They side with Barcelona in Leo Messi contract battle: “Current deal is still valid and paying release clause for €700m is the only way out”. 🛑 Manchester City are still waiting for Barça decision. 🔵 #MCFC https://t.co/p15IWcBRMg

It's unclear if a legal dispute will follow, though Messi seems prepared to depart regardless:

Fabrizio Romano @FabrizioRomano

Messi also after La Liga statement is not going to chance his mind. He wants to leave and to start a new chapter. Barcelona told him again they won’t let Leo go for free to Manchester City - and La Liga position is part of their strategy. The saga is on. 🚨🇦🇷 #Messi #FCB #MCFC

B/R Football @brfootball

Leo Messi didn't show up for the PCR test at Barcelona training this morning as he believes he is no longer a player of the club, according to @marcelobechler https://t.co/b3tRCxP5JC

That could force the Catalan giants to sell for less than the €700 million release clause, hoping to bring back a financial windfall without a long, ugly and protracted contract dispute with the best player in history and one of the most popular sporting figures on the planet. Such a standoff would not cast Barca in the best of lights, especially with other superstar players. An unhappy legend is bad for business and certainly bad for club morale. 

And City reportedly are set to offer Barcelona a lucrative transfer fee to sign Messi, even if it falls well short of his release clause:

Goal @goal

Barcelona believe Messi will sign for Manchester City and are now willing to accept a transfer fee of €280m, reports the Mirror 👀 https://t.co/o8O3kEgtPn

So the drama is in full swing, with Manchester City the favorites to land the Argentine superstar if he's allowed to leave Barcelona. Paris Saint-Germain are also in the running, per ESPN, with Messi's former teammate Neymar reportedly recruiting him to the Champions League runners-up. 

And there remains the possibility that Messi could be forced into staying, though that may require club president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigning and a whole lot of damage control. More than likely, Messi's time in Barcelona is over. If so, all that remains to determine is how much the club will receive for his departure. 

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