Lionel Messi’s decision to leave Barcelona this summer has sent shock waves throughout football and the headlines are now talking about where the six-time Ballon d’Or winner could end up.
Messi is set to leave after an incredible career at Camp Nou – scoring 634 goals and providing 285 assists in 731 appearances for the Spanish giants.
Manchester City’s eyes have lit up after Messi’s shocking decision and a meeting with Pep Guardiola at the Etihad is certainly on the cards.
Here, Sportsmail answers the most important questions about the history of transfers that dominate world football …
Manchester City seek sensational deal for Barcelona star Lionel Messi
WHEN CAN MESSI LEAVE BARCELONA?
This is currently the biggest hurdle due to doubts over the validity of Lionel Messi’s exit clause. Messi had to declare his desire to leave for free on June 10, which he has not done this year.
However, the Argentinian star argues that the deadline should have been extended based on the extension of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Messi and his family are insisting that he be allowed to leave for free. Barcelona, conversely, claim the opposite and that the deadline was June 10 regardless and that has now passed.
Messi got furious at Barcelona and informed them he wanted to leave this summer
WHAT SHALL WE DO NOW?
City could push for an international transfer certificate from FIFA, which would allow them to register Messi before the transfer window closes on October 5.
But that wouldn’t be the end of the problem as FIFA would have to decide whether City or Barcelona are right. This hearing may not take place until early 2021.
WHEN COULD HE ARRIVE IN ENGLAND?
Apparently, as soon as City can get him here after entering ITC, it will be some time before the whole situation is completely resolved.
If FIFA were to come out in favor of Messi, that would be pretty much the end of the matter and no financial implications for City… other than the huge salary they would have to pay him. Messi’s current deal is worth up to £ 100million a year.
However, it could become complicated if FIFA decides against Messi. It could leave City with a hefty bill to pay off Messi’s final year of contract. They could also be in hot water to find out how they tried to get through the movement.
Special meeting between Messi and Pep Guardiola could be considered at Etihad
HOW COULD THIS BE SOLVED?
By Messi going to an employment tribunal to plead his case and try to get out of his contract which contains a £ 635million release clause or Messi reaching a deal with Barcelona to redeem himself.
The former would not be a quick process or resolved before the October 5 transfer deadline.
As none of these situations or a long legal battle would suit either party involved, another option is for Barcelona to accept that Messi really wants to leave and come to a compromise deal with City.
Guardiola will dream of working with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner at Etihad again
WHEN COULD HE MEET GUARDIOLA?
The two have previously been in contact by phone to move to the Etihad, even discussing how Messi could settle in England and learn the language after nearly 20 years in Spain, and there is a growing sense that he’s really serious about leaving Barcelona for a reunion and it’s not just a power play.
How quickly the two come together in the flesh will depend on who makes the next move.
WHEN COULD BE HIS FIRST MATCH?
It would also depend on the above and how the situation unfolds – are City taking matters into their own hands and pushing the issue or waiting for Messi to resolve the feud to an end before taking action ?
For now, it looks like Messi will show up for the start of pre-season training at Barcelona next week. City begin their Premier League season in just over three weeks when they travel to Wolves.
They couldn’t have it by then, could they? The idea of signing City with Messi has long seemed like a pipe dream, but it’s not so far-fetched now, following this week’s developments.
It sounded like a pipe dream … but now a move for Messi doesn’t seem so over the top for City