Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave this summer and there are strong reports that Manchester City are closing in on helping the Argentine become reunited with Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium.
City want to offer Messi a five-year deal which will see him spend three years in the Premier League before finishing his career in the MLS with their sister club New York City.
If the 33-year-old forces through a move he will definitely help the Blues close the gap to Liverpool and pull further away from United in the league table.
But that will not be the only downside City’s rivals will have to face.
Barcelona are undergoing a total revamp of their squad after coming through their first trophyless season in 12 years.
New boss Ronald Koeman has been tasked with offloading many of the older players, including the likes of Luis Suarez, to freshen up the team.
Once Messi moves on Barca will be desperate to bring in a new right winger to plug the gap.
Ousmane Dembele’s terrible injury record means there is little faith that he can be the man to step into Messi’s shoes.
Instead, the La Liga giants will have to search the transfer market for their next No 10.
And it is no secret that Barca are long-term admirers of Liverpool star Sadio Mane and they could launch a bid for the Senegal International.
Mane has won everything there is to win at Anfield after helping the Reds clinch the Premier League title last season.
If an offer comes in it may be difficult for the 28-year-old to turn down with his mission on Merseyside now completed.That would leave Jurgen Klopp with little time to find a replacement and consequently throw their preparations for the upcoming season into chaos.
Another option Barca will likely look at is Borussia Dortmund ace Jadon Sancho – who is United’s top priority signing this summer.
The Red Devils spent months trying to convince the Bundesliga side to lower their £108m asking price.
Dortmund have since pulled the plug on negotiations and hope they can spark a bidding war next year when Real Madrid and Barca are expected to have more funds available.
But Messi leaving would free up a huge chunk of Barca’s budget and they could hijack United’s plans.
Another option Koeman’s side may look at is trying to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-German – but that deal will likely be the most expensive of the three.
It is unclear if the Brazilian would want to return, especially if Messi and Suarez are no longer there.
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