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While Lionel Messi’s future at Barcelona was hanging in the balance, Manchester City are trying to figure out how they could sign him without breaking Financial Fair Play rules, ESPN reported on Monday. But now that the Argentine superstar has informed his club he would like to leave, the clock on these calculations is ticking, as the potential reality of signing Messi is now closer than before.

Reports of Messi wanting to leave Barcelona began circulating as it hit rock bottom with the 8-2 loss to champion Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals earlier this month. City, another Champions League contender, also fell way short of expectations by losing in the quarterfinals to Lyon. 

The Argentine sent a fax on Tuesday to inform the Catalonian club that he no longer wanted to play for them, which sent shockwaves around the world of soccer. City were monitoring the situation closely and looking into the costs that would be involved should Barca agree to sell to them. They’re one of the few teams we listed in our landing spots for Messi, who still has one year left on his contract. The La Liga giants recently named Ronald Koeman as the new manager to help rebuild a squad that went without a trophy for the first time in over a decade. 

A deal for the player would certainly complicate things for Pep Guardiola’s side as they already had run-ins with FFP rules in the past, even being banned from the Champions League as a result before having that ruling overturned on appeal. 

The current economic situation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic also complicates things a bit with financial experts believing a move for him isn’t viable. His release clause is over €700 million, making him untouchable at that price. He’d only become available if Barca agree to facilitate the move in an effort to not force him to spend the last season of his contract unhappy at Barca. 

City have already spent over $60 million to sign Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake and Valencia winger Ferran Torres. Bringing in Messi would force the team to make some significant sales to balance the books. The club already sold Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich.

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