Lionel Messi transfer addressed by Joan Laporta amid Man City and PSG speculation

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Barcelona presidential candidate Joan Laporta has revealed that the Spanish giants have already received lucrative offers for the services of Lionel Messi. The mercurial Argentine has been linked with a move away from the Nou Camp since announcing his intention to leave during the summer, a request that was turned down by Barca as part of a messy dispute between player and club.

Messi eventually agreed to remain at the club for the time being, but could walk away at the end of the season upon the expiry of his current contract.

Manchester City are among the most likely contenders for his signature, with the prospect of a reunion with Pep Guardiola likely to appeal to the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.

French giants Paris Saint-Germain are also in the hunt as one of the few clubs that could afford Messi’s astronomical salary demands.

It appears as if both clubs have wasted no time in acting upon their interest, with Laporta hinting in a recent campaign speech that City and PSG have both submitted concrete offers for the 33-year-old.

“It won’t be easy because he’s receiving offers from clubs that don’t lack money, because they have either a tycoon or a state behind them,” he said.

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City are owned by Emirati billionaire Sheikh Mansour, who is a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi, while PSG are bankrolled by the Qatari state-owned organisation Qatar Sports Investments, suggesting that the two clubs are the interested parties in question.

However, although Laporta admitted that it would be difficult to keep hold of Messi beyond the end of the campaign, he stressed that the player’s mindset has changed since the events of pre-season, claiming that he could ultimately choose to remain with Barca.

“Messi is very comfortable here, I’m convinced,” Laporta continued. “From what I know of him, he wants to stay.

“He loves Barcelona and I enjoy the honesty he has always spoken to me with.”

Messi is said to have warmed to the idea of staying since the resignation of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who was known to have a strained relationship with the forward.

Barca boss Ronald Koeman revealed earlier this month that he believes Messi will depart at the end of the season, but claimed that he cannot envisage the four-time Champions League winner turning out for any other club.

“I’m not confident about that,” Koeman told The Athletic when quizzed on whether Messi will change his mind about leaving.

“I’m hopeful, yes, about this because he’s still a great player and he’s still winning matches for us, for the team.

“I’m enjoying being his coach, if you look at his qualities every day in the training sessions, it’s incredible.

“Of course, he came as a young kid to Barcelona. And I still don’t see Leo Messi in another shirt other than the Barca shirt.”

The legendary attacker has found the net 650 times and claimed 285 assists in 756 appearances for the Catalan club.

He is Barca’s all-time leading marksman and recently became the player to have scored the most goals for a single club, beating Pele’s previous record of 643 with a second-half strike against Real Valladolid in December.

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