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Manchester City have been given the green light to sign Lionel Messi after it emerged Barcelona can no longer afford his wages.
The Spanish giants are struggling to honour Messi's current deal that sees him earn a staggering £7.45m-a-month after tax at the Bernabeu.
Presidential candidate Emili Rousaud admits Messi's salary is too much for Barca due to their financial crisis.
Barca will have no choice but to offer him reduced terms in a desperate bid to keep him – opening the door for City bosses to make their move.
Etihad chairman Khaldoon Al-Mubarak is willing to match Messi's current wages in a bid to reunite the Argentine superstar with Pep Guardiola in Manchester.
Messi, who came close to joining City in the summer before deciding to stay at Barca for legal reasons, has less than seven months remaining on his contract and can talk to other clubs in January.
Paris Saint-Germain are also keen on signing Messi, but City believe his close relationship with Guardiola puts them in pole position.
Rousaud, who quit as Barca vice-president earlier this year in protest at how the club was being run by then chief Josep Maria Bartomeu, is still desperate to keep Messi but knows this is far from certain.
He said: "In the club's current situation Messi's salary is not sustainable, so we'll have to reach an agreement with him. We will present an attractive project to him.
"What matters most here is the sporting project. When Messi said he was leaving he didn't mention money. He has the highest salary in the world, no-one earns more than him, he doesn't want to leave because he earns too little.
"He wants to leave because he wants to win trophies. He referred to that recently when he said, 'the Champions League is not within our reach.' He wants a team full of talent."
Barca were ranked as the club with the biggest revenues in the world in 2020, but the impact of Covid-19 has been catastrophic on their finances and last week they announced they were delaying paying their players.
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