Chelsea assistant manager Steve Holland has admitted that signing Lionel Messi from Barcelona will be impossible under Uefa's financial fair play regulations.
The four-time Ballon d'Or winner has been linked with a sensational exit from Barcelona after falling out with current manager Luis Enrique. His discontent at the Nou Camp has helped fuel suggestions that Chelsea could coax him away if they meet his £200 million release clause.
However, Holland, standing in for Jose Mourinho, told reporters that a deal for Messi was simply unviable under the current restrictions.
He said, according to Daily Mail journalist Neil Ashton: "Signing Messi (for Chelsea) under FFP is impossible."
Chelsea are one of the few clubs who could conceivably afford to sign the Argentine from Barcelona. A report in The Sun suggested that the total value for signing Messi on a six-year deal would cost £500 million, including wages in excess of £45 million a year.
But restrictions from Uefa prevent clubs from losing more than £105 million over three seasons. Chelsea are also not allowed to increase their wage bill by more than £4 million a season unless their commercial revenue goes up in line with it.
Moving on, the reason Holland was speaking in place of Mourinho was because the Chelsea boss refused to attend the press conference after he was charged by the FA for disparaging comments towards referees.
The Chelsea boss had claimed referees were being influenced by a media campaign, causing them to make decision against his Blues. The comments came after Cesc Fabregas was denied a penalty in the 1-1 draw against Southampton.
More important matters lie ahead for Chelsea as they look to rebound from their 5-3 loss to Tottenham Hotspur against Newcastle United this weekend. Holland insists the players have worked extra hard in training in an effort to steady a swaying Stamford Bridge.
Holland said: "It's an important game tomorrow, we lost away at Newcastle recently and we're determined to put that right.
"There's been a real focus in training this week. To have a week with 20 players together is a big advantage."