Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has been valued at an eye-watering €400m (£331m) by a recent study commissioned by three unnamed European clubs.
The study was reportedly carried out by sports marketing specialists Eurmericas, who looked at Messi's outright value as a footballer but also factored in other crucial statistics such as earnings from huge sponsorship deals.
"Three European clubs asked us to carry out this study on Lionel Messi, one of which is owned by a government, who would be willing to pay the valuation we have landed on," Eurmericas spokesman Gerardo Molina told Spanish radio in an interview that was quoted by The Metro.
However, much to the disappointment of many, Molina refused to reveal just which clubs had requested they undertake such an evaluation.
"We can’t reveal their identities due to confidentiality; they asked us to carry this out to examine the possibility of making this signing."
Such news is likely to leave everyone guessing as to the identity of these mystery suitors. Given the exorbitant nature of any deal involving Messi, one could estimate that it could surely only be a handful of clubs whose superior financial capabilities would allow them to realistically carry out such a deal.
26-year-old Argentine Messi, who has been with Barcelona for the entire duration of his career to date, is widely considered to be the most-talented footballer on the planet with a plethora of awards and silverware to his name.
The diminutive attacker, who has scored eight goals in 11 La Liga appearances so far this season but is likely to miss out on another prestigious Ballon d'Or award to fierce rival Cristiano Ronaldo, has been out of contention for two months with a thigh problem.
However, Barcelona and manager Gerardo Martino were handed a sizable boost yesterday when Messi returned to first-team training.