Manchester City have ended their pursuit of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, Spain football expert Semra Hunter has said.
The 33-year-old, who has scored 640 goals in 742 appearances for the Catalans, has sensationalized his desire to leave Camp Nou during the summer – a move that was rejected by the board.
Barca bosses have insisted that any contender would have to pay his £ 630million release clause, a move which saw Messi reluctantly decide to see him exit the final year of his contract.
He is expected to leave Barca at the end of the season and both PSG and Man City have been mentioned as the most likely destinations.
Nonetheless, Hunter, speaking to Sky Sports, says Messi’s salary of € 100m per year (£ 89m) is a deciding factor for City.
“I have it in good authority from someone close to the situation that Manchester City are not going to bid for Lionel Messi,” Hunter said. “According to the information I have, this door is closed to date.
“They have their reasons for this,” he says. “They have two reasons for this: age and finances. Speaking of age, he’s heading into the twilight years of his career and you’ll be boarding a different Messi than we’ve seen in the past 17 years at Barcelona. Even he himself has said he’s getting closer to the dreaded r-word of retirement more than anyone cares to admit.
“It goes hand in hand with finances because even if he could join for free, his salaries are astronomically high – he earns around 100 million euros a year. It would be a huge financial burden for any club to take on, especially since we are in the midst of a global pandemic.
“Economically, everyone has taken a hit and the clubs are not immune to it either. We saw in the transfer window last summer that the clubs were changing their strategies. Some of them, like Real Madrid, haven’t even bought a single player, most are trying to sell, some of them are trying to bide their time and wait so they can make bigger transfers more late. And 100 million euros is a huge stress from the point of view of the payroll.
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“Either you have to offload some of the higher income or you have to sell players or make other changes in other parts of the club depending on the formula a club would like to use to bring Messi on board.
“Maybe the clubs prefer to invest this money to attract young players or to reinforce positions where they really need these reinforcements.”
Messi has become synonymous with Barca for over a decade, helping them win four European Cups, ten LaLiga titles and many other trophies.
City boss Guardiola, who signed another two-year contract extension at the Etihad on Thursday, believes the 33-year-old should end his career at Barcelona.
He said: “I have said a thousand times that I, as a Barcelona fan, would like him to end his career there.
“I don’t know what’s going to go through his head but for now he’s a Barcelona player.”