Manchester City will move for Lionel Messi if he fails to resolve a bust-up with Barcelona.
Manchester United are also reportedly one of a number of clubs interested in a shock move for Messi.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is rumoured to be unsettled at the Camp Nou — and could leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.
The Argentine legend’s future has been plunged into doubt after a public fall-out with club sporting director Eric Abidal.
City have believed for years that if Messi (32) ever left Barcelona, his most likely destination would be the Etihad.
He had some of the best times of his career during Pep Guardiola’s four-year Nou Camp reign, twice winning the Champions League.
And City big-wigs Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain maintain a warm relationship with the player and his family.
So his public row with Abidal is unlikely to have gone unnoticed among the City hierarchy, as well as Europe’s other top clubs.
Messi took exception to the former France international’s criticism of the team in the final few weeks of Ernesto Valverde’s reign.
He took to social media to reply: “Those in charge of sporting direction should also face up to their responsibilities and above all take charge of their own decisions.
“When you talk about players you should give names, otherwise you are tainting everyone’s name and feeding rumours which are not true.”
Messi’s Barca contract runs until 2021, but it does include a clause which would allow him to leave for free this summer.
And that will put City on red alert — even though the feeling at the Etihad is that Messi WILL remain with the La Liga giants.
A reunion with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City has been mooted, but the reigning Premier League champions don’t expect him to quit the Nou Camp.
But according to Gazzetta dello Sport, Manchester United have entered the race for the 32-year-old superstar.
Barcelona chiefs decided to sack Valverde last month despite the team sitting top of the LaLiga table.
And since successor Quique Setien has taken over, the Catalan giants have slipped to second behind Real Madrid.
There are still 18 months left on Messi’s contract at the Camp Nou, which pays him a staggering £1 million a week, but the deal involves a sensational clause that allows him to leave for NOTHING in the summer.
This, coupled with his public Barca bust-up, has alerted top clubs around Europe.
As well as both Manchester clubs, Inter Milan, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are all eyeing the situation with interest.
Despite Messi’s apparent unhappiness, he has still delivered in typical fashion this season — netting 19 goals and laying on a further 12 for his team-mates in 24 appearances. — The Sun.