Football

Lionel Messi closer to leaving Barcelona than ever

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Lionel Messi has never been closer to leaving Barcelona than he is now. That is according to Sky Sports' football expert Guillem Balague.

The Argentina international has spent his entire professional career at the Nou Camp and has won everything Spanish football has to offer.

According to a sensational report in the Sun, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea have tried to tempt Messi away from Catalonia with the promise of a fresh challenge.

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With things not necessarily going his way in Barcelona, Balague believes the four-time Ballon d'Or winner could well be ready to listen.

Balague told Sky Sports: "It is the closest he's ever been to leaving Barcelona. It doesn't mean he will but it is the closest he has ever been to leaving the club."

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Legal trouble

His colleague, Graham Hunter, suggested that the ongoing tax fraud case, which could see Messi and his father served a 22-month jail sentence, could be pushing him further towards an exit from Barcelona.

Hunter said: "The climate, not just at the Camp Nou but in Catalonia, is probably enough to make him and his family scratch their heads and wonder.

"I guess at his age... maybe you start to look at your next move and you think your next move at 28 is vitally important."

The price

Barcelona would likely demand every penny of Messi's £195million release clause and, if that is the case, surely only Manchester United and City would have the financial capacity to pay the figure.

The Red Devils have already tried and failed to break the transfer record, bidding £100m for Gareth Bale in the summer transfer window whilst also trying to sign Neymar for even more.

Manchester City have benefitted from Uefa's decision to remove financial fair play restrictions and have the financial backing of their oil-rich owners.

Currently favourites to bag Pep Guardiola if he leaves Bayern Munch, the presence of the Spanish manager at the Etihad could make them instant favourites to land him.

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Topics:
Premier League
Barcelona
Lionel Messi
Transfer News
Manchester United
Chelsea
Manchester City
Football

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