La Liga president Javier Tebas has claimed Manchester City compete “outside of the rules” financially when addressing the Premier League club’s pursuit of Lionel Messi.
City emerged as the frontrunners to sign Messi over the summer after the Argentine said he wanted to leave Barcelona after their humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich and public fallout with president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who has since resigned from his role.
Messi eventually stayed at the Nou Camp, but reports persist over a possible move to City given the 33-year-old will be out of contract at Barca at the end of the season - meaning the six-time Ballon d'Or winner could sign a pre-contract agreement elsewhere in Europe in January.
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Tebas said it would be “impossible to compete” against City, who saw their two-year European ban for breaching Financial Fair Play regulations overturned earlier this year.
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"The only club in the Premier League which could sign Messi is Manchester City, and Manchester City competes outside of the rules," said Tebas.
La Liga president Tebas attacks Man City over Messi transfer rumours
“What worries me is that City can access a player violating the financial rules given by UEFA. But it's not just my concern, both Jurgen Klopp and Mourinho at the end of the season criticised Manchester City as well, I'm not the only one in Europe.”
Tebas added: "La Liga wishes for all the big leagues to remain financially solid, it is crucial for the movement of players and the movement of money, it means the financial stability of all leagues.
“What worries me is that he (Messi) goes to Manchester City, since Manchester City is not affected by COVID or by the pandemic. They are financed in a different way, and it is impossible to compete against that."
Messi’s possible departure from La Liga would see another high-profile name leave the division to take on a new challenge, but Tebas does not think the league will suffer having “not noticed any difference” when Neymar left Barca for PSG or Cristiano Ronaldo swapped Real Madrid for Juventus.
Tebas said: "We would prefer Messi to stay in La Liga but Ronaldo and Neymar left and we have not noticed any difference. We are ready."
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City are ready to make a move for Messi, according to the Sun newspaper. The paper reports that Barcelona are desperate to cut costs and so an offer of £50 million or perhaps less could be enough to secure the 33-year-old Argentine’s signature. From City’s point of view the purchase may help them convince Pep Guardiola to stay.
Paper Round’s view: Guardiola has never won the Champions League without Messi at his disposal and it is starting to be something of a blot on his copybook. All that money and unable to produce the best team in the world. The presence of Messi, even for a season or two, could be the difference that would help them regain the Premier League and dominate in Europe.
Keeping Messi is critical - Font
Messi must stay at Barcelona so he can lead the team for the remainder of his career and play a strategic role when he retires, the club's presidential candidate Victor Font has said.
Font, who formed part of a campaign against Bartomeu which led to him resigning in October, is the front-runner to win the January 24 election and believes the world's best paid player can be convinced to stay at Camp Nou.
“When you are lucky enough to have the best player in the world in your team, you need to retain that talent,” Font, a 48-year-old telecommunications entrepreneur, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.
"If Messi goes to a competitor we will not find an alternative easily as there is no alternative to Messi. So that’s why retaining him in the short term is critical.
"But for us the association between Messi and Barca is a strategic relationship and we want to make sure we create the right conditions for Messi to play a role in the club even after he retires. Messi could contribute plenty of ideas."
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