Chelsea and Manchester City will have to pay close to £500 million if they are serious about signing Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi next summer, taking into account the wages he'll command over the duration of a six-year deal on top of his £210 million buyout clause.
The revelations come from a report in The Sun which suggest the Argentina international - who has grown disillusioned with life at Camp Nou - will demand a contract worth in excess of £45 million per year which will total at least £270 million by 2021.
Messi is regarded by many as the best player in world football, but the approximate outlay of £480 million is still a staggering commitment, particularly in an era that has seen the introduction of more stringent Financial Fair Play restrictions.
Blues owner Roman Abramovich is a multi-billionaire businessman, but even he would struggle to justify spending such a significant amount of money on one player, regardless of his long-standing ambition to bring the four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner to Stamford Bridge.
The Citizens, by comparison, are even more wealthy thanks to the backing of Sheikh Mansour, so on that basis Manuel Pellegrini would perhaps be better placed than Jose Mourinho to secure Messi's services, although a prospective switch to the Etihad Stadium still remains highly unlikely based on those figures.
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More certain is the fact that the 27-year-old is unhappy at the moment following an alleged fallout with Luis Enrique. The Barcelona boss refused to discuss Messi during his pre-match press conference before the Copa del Rey first leg clash against Elche, fuelling rumours of a possible departure.
And, according to a Sun source, the pint-sized magician is seriously considering quitting the club he joined 15 years ago as a precocious young talent that was nurtured at the famous La Masia academy and developed into the best footballer on the planet.
"Leo's minded to leave Barca. He is completely fed up with so many things at the club that it is difficult to see a way forward."
European heavyweights such as Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and even Real Madrid have also been mooted as a potential destination for want-away Messi, but quite frankly it's difficult to see any club agreeing to shell out almost half a billion on the blockbuster transfer.
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