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Man City have secret weapon to sign the 'next Lionel Messi' ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona

Man City have secret weapon to sign the 'next Lionel Messi' ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona

The Premier League champions may have a trick up their sleeve.

Manchester City may have secret weapon to help sign the 'next Lionel Messi' ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

City have been keeping tabs on Argentine teenager Claudio Echeverri ahead of a potential January swoop.

The Premier League champions sent Etihad scouts to watch the River Plate attacking midfielder in action at the Under-17s World Cup, where he scored five goals before missing a penalty in Argentina's semi-final shoot-out defeat to Germany.

River Plate inserted a £21.44million buy-out clause into Echeverri's contract last January, although that figure will reportedly reach £25.73million within 10 days of any transfer window closing.

‌The Buenos Aires club are now desperately scrambling to restructure the deal in an attempt to double the value of the clause, according The Mirror.

The report adds that Manchester City are hoping their relationship with River Plate from when they signed Julian Alvarez will give them a key advantage in the battle for his signature.

Alvarez signed for Pep Guardiola's side nearly two years ago, but was allowed to stay in Argentina for an extra six months to play in the Copa Libertadores.

The 23-year-old has since become a key member of the squad, scoring 25 goals in 69 appearances across all competitions, and helping them win a historic treble last season.

It remains to be seen whether City would grant Echeverri a similar agreement, but they are expected to face competition from the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and the two Milan clubs.

Meanwhile, cross-city rivals Manchester United have also been tipped to make a move for the teenager.

Discussing comparisons to Messi last month, Echeverri said (via Sportskeeda): “I always said that my idol was Messi, but I’m nowhere near Messi! I also really liked Pablo Aimar, who’s part of the national-team staff, and he’s spoken to me many times.

"He’s a great person, and he gives me useful pointers about what I need to correct in my game. I’d probably say ‘Pablito’, then – he was a talented player and loved to take on defenders like me.”

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Manchester City, Transfers, Julian Alvarez, Football, Premier League, Real Madrid, Barcelona, River Plate