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Manchester City believe they will be the first choice if Lionel Messi decides to move on from Barcelona, according to reports.
And the chances of him leaving the Blaugrana appear to have increased significantly in recent times after he slammed former teammate and current Barca sporting director Eric Abidal.
In an interview, the Frenchman claim the players did not 'do all they could' when playing under Ernesto Valverde before he was sacked.
Lionel Messi hits out at Barcelona's Sporting Director and former team-mate Eric Abidal :eyes: pic.twitter.com/8FCBU48YE5- B/R Football (@brfootball) February 4, 2020
Barca skipper Messi took issue with Abidal's comments and responded with an outburst on social media.
The six-time Ballon d'Or winner has a special clause in his Barca contract that allows him to terminate his deal at the end of every season - something both Andres Iniesta and Carles Puyol had the option to do during their time at the Nou Camp.
If Barca's record goalscorer does exercise that right to leave on a free transfer, City will be right at the front of the queue as per Stuart Brennan from the Manchester Evening News.
The Blues have long been linked with the Argentine ace and there are no shortage of relationships for Messi at the Premier League champions.
City boss Pep Guardiola converted him into a false nine in a move that revolutionised football, while City's top brass Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain have both come from Barcelona.
There is also the small fact that City talisman Sergio Aguero is one of his best friends in football.
It's hard to imagine a world where Messi is no longer turning out for Barcelona but stranger things have happened in football.
In fact, former Barca player Francisco Carrasco thinks there's a strong chance that the 32-year old departs the club in the near future.
"He [Messi] is ill at ease," Carrasco told El Chiringuito, via AS.
"In all the years I've been watching him and have loved the way he plays, it's the first time Messi has looked to me like he has one foot out of the door. I've never had to say that before."
Messi to the Etihad on a free? Don't shoot the messenger.
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