Manchester United are ready to seriously pursue the possibility of signing Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in a blockbuster summer transfer, following his frank admission at yesterday's Ballon d'Or ceremony.
Messi was at pains to insist that his long-term future is uncertain and gave no guarantees that he'll stay at Barcelona this season, which The Guardian believes has alerted United to the possibility of completing what would be without question the most sensational transfer deal in Premier League history.
United are the only English club who have the financial muscle to meet Messi's whopping €250m buyout clause plus salary demands, and with executive vice-president Ed Woodward effectively telling manager Louis van Gaal there is no limit to their transfer budget over the next few weeks this sensational story may just have some legs.
Messi has effectively sparked this fresh round of rumours himself by refusing to rule out a shock exit from Barca, the club that's been his home for an incredible 11-year professional career and beyond.
Here's what the Argentine legend had to say in Zurich yesterday that's proved so intriguing: “I am not sure where I will be next year. I have always said that I will end my career at Barcelona but as Cristiano said: ‘Only God knows the future.’ Things in football can change overnight.”
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United have unmatched spending power
The Red Devils are relatively confident they can sign just about any transfer target Van Gaal identifies thanks to the riches provided by an incredible kit deal with Adidas, which begins from the start of next season.
Adidas are paying United a guaranteed £750m across the next decade for the rights to manufacture United's kit, which means they'll be £75m available before any other commercial deal is taken into account.
Woodward has plans to keep that commercial juggernaut moving forward and can count on world football's biggest fanbase to make that happen, all of which means United believe there's effectively an unlimited budget when it comes to making a move for Messi viable.
Bitter rivals Manchester City have also looked into the possibility of landing Messi and Chelsea are also believed to be monitoring ongoing unrest at Barca closely, but in truth neither can match United for spending power when Financial Fair Play rules are taken into consideration.
All of that means that if Barca fail to keep arguably the finest player ever to play at the Camp Nou happy there's a genuine chance he could be persuaded to leave, with United best placed to do just that at the end of the season.