Manchester City believe they are in pole position to sign Lionel Messi if the Argentine quits Barcelona in the aftermath of the club’s Champions League humiliation, the Sunday Mirror claims.

The Blues would pay Messi whatever it takes to lure him to the Etihad and reunite him with Pep Guardiola, the Mirror says.

And City’s stance on the 32-year-old remains steadfast that they will be at the front of the queue if the six-time Ballon d’Or winner decides to seek a new challenge.

Barcelona are in crisis after a season in which they surrendered the La Liga title to bitter rivals Real Madrid was ended ignominiously by an 8-2 Champions League demolition by Bayern Munich.

The clause in his contract that allows Messi to leave for free at the end of every season expired at the end of May.

But, according to the report, City are now waiting for an indication from Messi that he will consider leaving his beloved Barcelona after 16 years.

His current £635million buy-out clause puts him out of the reach of every club, but Barcelona don’t have the money to finance the squad rebuild they so clearly need – and may be forced to sacrifice their most precious asset to make it happen.

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