Gary Neville jokes he will ask Lionel Messi to join Manchester United

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Gary Neville has accepted the challenge of asking Barcelona star Lionel Messi to join Manchester United for next season - although it’s safe to assume the former Red Devils’ captain was only joking.

Neville told his 2.7 million followers on Twitter that he was flying to Barcelona for tonight’s crunch Champions League last-16 second leg tie between the Catalan giants and Manchester City - and was subsequently asked by a Twitter user if he would have a quiet word with Messi.

The former Manchester United captain responded with this amusing quip: “Will jump right on that”.

Messi set to stay at Barcelona

There were reports that United would be keen to sign Messi this summer - which club wouldn’t be? - following rumours of his unhappiness at the Camp Nou earlier this season.

But Messi, 27, has rediscovered his best form since the turn of the New Year and speculation linking him with a shock move away from the Camp Nou has now completely died down.

FFP makes Messi deal almost impossible

The Argentina international has often reiterated his desire to spend his entire career with Barcelona, although he has always caveated that by admitting nobody knows what the future holds.

In truth it would be extremely difficult for any club to sign Messi since the introduction of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.

Barcelona would not sell the four-time Ballon d’Or winner unless a club matches his £250 million release clause, while his wage demands and agent fees would boost the overall cost of the deal to an astronomical £500 million.

United would need to sell at least three stars

Sky Sports’ Spanish football expert Guillem Balague - the author of an in-depth biography of Messi - recently claimed that if, for example, Chelsea wanted to sign the world-class forward they would first need to offload the likes of Diego Costa, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas in order to balance the books.

“So you are selling (Diego) Costa, (Eden) Hazard and (Cesc) Fabregas and you are bringing Messi." - Guillem Balague.

Manchester United would probably need to do something similar - and this might include selling the likes of David de Gea, Angel di Maria and perhaps even Wayne Rooney.

Messi might not be as prolific in England

Despite Messi’s undoubted class - there is now a real argument to suggest the South American is the best footballer of all time - replacing three star players for one does not make sense from either a football or business perspective.

While it’s safe to assume Messi would score goals for fun in the Premier League, there’s no guarantees he would be quite as prolific in England’s top flight.

Messi’s has now scored 38 goals or more in seven consecutive seasons for Barcelona - a truly extraordinary record - but could he rack up the same numbers in England?

Let us know what you think: would it make sense for Manchester United to sell three key players in order to sign Messi? Leave a comment in the box below!

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Lionel Messi
Premier League
Gary Neville
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Transfer News

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