Lionel Messi faces a defining day in his career amid reports he is considering a U-turn over his decision to leave Barcelona.
A crunch meeting between Messi’s dad Jorge and Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu reportedly ended in a stalemate on Wednesday, with no agreement reached over the wantaway forward’s future.
Messi’s camp have claimed the six-time Ballon d’Or winner can leave the Nou Camp for free this summer, while Barca have insisted that is not the case – and have been backed in their stance by La Liga.
And now Messi is considering a dramatic U-turn, according to the same source in Argentina which first broke news of the 33-year-old’s transfer request.
The man regarded by many as the game’s greatest ever player is now considering seeing out the remaining year of his contract, according to TyC Sports.
Renowned in Argentina for its reliable reports, TyC Sports claimed senior figures at the club have pleaded with Messi to stay, and that he will spend Thursday considering his options.
Reports from Messi’s homeland have also claimed he is now “90% likely to stay” – which if true will be a blow to Manchester City after reports the forward was poised for a fairytale reunion with his former Barca boss Pep Guardiola.
Earlier, a report from TyC Sports cited by Spanish publication Marca had claimed that Jorge Messi had told Bartomeu “My son isn’t staying at Barcelona”.
But the Catalan giants do not appear willing to budge on their assertion that they are due a transfer fee of €700m (£621m) if Messi is to leave the Nou Camp.
And if the reports from Argentina are to be believed, then it appears the club’s intransigence could force their best player to stay for at least another season.
As well as City, Paris-Saint Germain and Juventus are also reportedly in the hunt for Messi.
A move to the Ligue 1 champions or the Serie A kings would open up the tantalising prospect of Messi teaming up with either Kylian Mbappe and his former Barca teammate Neymar, or his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo.
Inter Milan have also been linked with a move for Messi, although the club’s sporting director Piero Ausilio has indicated that the Serie A giants would not be able to afford him.
Messi’s dad said staying at Barcelona would be “difficult” for his son when quizzed by reporters on his arrival in the city on Wednesday.
Interviewed by Cuatro Deportes, he was asked whether going to City was “a good option” and replied: “I don’t know. There is still nothing.
When it was put to him that Guardiola had said it would be best if his son stayed at Barcelona, Messi Snr said: “I have not spoken to Pep. I have not spoken to anyone.”
He was then asked how he saw Messi’s future at Barcelona, and replied: “Difficult, difficult.”
Messi has already made the heart-wrenching decision to part ways with Barcelona so far into his career with them, but the club remain hopeful of keeping hold of their star man