This may well be the last Lionel Messi/Manchester City story ever published on City Watch after close to a decade of the iconic little Argentine being linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium.
Messi will spend the remainder of his peak years at FC Barcelona after renewing his contract in November, but that only came after City made one last effort to prise him from Camp Nou.
In his ‘Futbolitis’ column for Spanish newspaper Marca, journalist Marcos López reveals that City offered Messi a €100million signing-on fee to join them on a free transfer next summer, with a salary worth €50million net a season.
City made this offer quite clear, not using any intermediaries, and Barça president Josep Maria Bartomeu was fully aware of it, knowing he had to respond decisively and make Leo the best-paid footballer on the planet.
The journalist is keen to point out that while many Messi-to-City rumours have been just that, stories to fill newspaper columns, this offer was very real as Blues chiefs saw it as a ‘now or never’ situation.
Messi did take his time putting pen to paper, but Barcelona stretched their budget to offer him a salary that could rise to €50million net per season, with the player said to have been granted exclusive image rights, the same amount Man City offered, and Messi finally signed a new deal.
The 30-year-old will now see out his career at the top at Barcelona, but there was no lack of effort from City in signing arguably the greatest footballer in history.
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