Manchester City have told their money men to find a way to make a world record transfer deal for Lionel Messi work, reports The Mail on Sunday.
The Citizens have already fallen foul of Uefa's financial fair play regulations. They were handed a £50 million fine–two thirds of which was suspended–and saw their Champions League squad restricted to 21 players.
But Manuel Pellegrini was still able to sign Wilfried Bony for £28 million last week, only sending Matija Nastasic on loan as a result. A deal for Messi would make the Bony deal appear insignificant in value, but City are still trying to make it happen.
Messi is reportedly unhappy at Barcelona and would be open to leaving if the right offer came along. Nou Camp officials would not let the forward go for any less than his £200 million release clause while Messi's wage demands would be almost £300 million over six-years.
Still, City think they can pay the £500 million and balance the books. They are well in the race along with their local rivals Manchester United and their Premier League title rivals Chelsea. The Red Devils appear best placed to compete with new sponsors Adidas ready to assist them in any way they legally can.
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Chelsea have already said that a deal to bring Messi to Stamford Bridge would be impossible under financial fair play, but are keeping a close eye on events at Barcelona.
Despite denials, Messi has apparently fallen out with Luis Enrique and has told chiefs that it is coming to a 'him or me' situation. Should he get a chance to leave Barcelona, he may well be tempted to accept it.
Future in doubt
Pellegrini and Louis van Gaal were put on red alert after Messi threw his future into the air at the recent Ballon d'Or ceremony.
"I'm not sure what's going to happen, whether I'd go to Newell's," he said.
"I don't know where I'll be next year although I've always said I want to end my career at Barcelona."