Queue Lionel Messi to City Rumour #327 with the Mirror’s take on an alleged mega-money summer approach from the Blues for the Barcelona superstar whose career in Catalunya appears to be awash with uncertainty.
“Etihad bosses have made signing the Argentine ace for Pep Guardiola their No 1 priority this summer,” claims Simon Mullock.
“And City’s confidence that they can seal a world-record £100million deal for the five-time world player of the year has received a double boost in recent days.
“Messi’s father, Jorge, who acts as his son’s adviser, is in Barcelona to look after business – but has no plans to talk to the club about extending a contract that now has less than 16 months to run.
“It’s a situation that will reach crisis point this summer if the stalemate hasn’t been broken.
“After handing new deals to Neymar and Luis Suarez, Barca will struggle to hand Messi an increase on his current wages and stay within the boundaries of La Liga’s salary restrictions.
“Clubs cannot spend more than 70 percent of their income on wages – and Messi already earns £20million-a-year after tax.
“Nou Camp chiefs are aware that they are approaching the end of an era and that a major team restructure is required.
“With Messi’s 30th birthday approaching, he is running out of time to add to his four Champions League medals.
“In Spain Messi is reported as keen to link-up again with Guardiola, based on attempts to lure the coach back to the Nou Camp.
“City are confident that will not happen. They are certain that Guardiola will honour the remaining two-and-a-half years of his contract – and now expect him to stay beyond 2019.
“The message to Messi is that if he wants to play for Pep again then he will have to move to Manchester.”
Sunderland’s young English goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is apparently the prize for which Everton and City will battle over this summer if The Express are to be believed.
“Pickford who was called into the England squad for the first time earlier this season is expected to quit the Stadium of Light if Sunderland are relegated.
“He was handed a new contract earlier in the season but has made it clear that he wants to be playing in the Premier League next season.
“Pickford is set to return to action after a lengthy spell on the sidelines with a knee injury has been on the radar of both clubs all season.
“Arsenal and Chelsea have also taken a look at a player who is rated as one of the best young goalkeepers in the country by England boss Gareth Southgate.
“The England under-21 international, 22, is seen by City as someone who could bolster their quota of home grown players.
And finally, City fans will be able to get a close-up view of another player linked with a summer move to the Etihad this Tuesday when Monaco come to town with the French side’s full back Benjamin Mendy apparently attracting interest from the Blues.
“City boss Pep Guardiola has made new full-backs a priority and with Gael Clichy out of contract in the summer and unlikely to be offered a new deal the club will be short of options on the left side of defence,” claim the Mirror.
“Guardiola’s scouts have been keeping tabs on Mendy and the Spaniard will get the chance to see him close up this week when their two sides meet in the Champions League.
“Mendy, 22, only joined Monaco from Marseille last summer on a five-year deal.
“But he has impressed with the Ligue 1 leaders and his form has not gone unnoticed across the Continent.”