Manchester City believe they are in pole position to sign Lionel Messi – but only if he one day decides to leave Barcelona.
Their interest has been peaked by claims on Monday by former Blaugrana president Joan Laporta that there is a conspiracy at the Nou Camp to get rid of the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.
‘There are certain powers who want Messi to no longer be a Barca player,’ Laporta told Catalunya Radio.
‘The club has let the player down, the best player in history, the best player in the world. We have a president and a board that didn’t accompany him when he had to testify in court.’
According to the Manchester Evening News, the Citizens are still doubtful that the 29-year-old will ever leave the Catalan outfit, but believe that his relationship with manager Pep Guardiola could see him arrive at the Etihad if he did.
Messi – sporting a new blonde dye during Barcelona’s training St George’s Park – is also friends with Sky Blues chief executive Ferran Soriano and director Txiki Begiristain, who used to work for Barcelona before moving to the Premier League side.