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Man City ‘believe’ they will be Lionel Messi’s ‘first choice’ if he quits Barcelona over Abidal row

Manchester City believe they will be Lionel Messi’s ‘first choice’ should the Barcelona superstar opt to leave the club following the internal row with sporting director Eric Abidal.

Messi has become embroiled in a row with Barcelona chief and former teammate Abidal over comments made by the latter recently, criticising the attitude of some of the Spanish side’s squad during the reign of former manager Ernesto Valverde, who was sacked last month and replaced by Quique Setién.

Speaking in an interview with Sport, Abidal said that “many players weren’t satisfied or working a lot and there was also an internal communication problem,” – comments which led to an angry response from Barca icon and captain Messi via social media.

On a post on Instagram, Messi responded to Abidal’s comments by saying: “I honestly do not like doing these things, but I think everyone has to be responsible for their tasks and take care of their decisions. The players are responsible for what happens on the pitch and we are also the first to recognise when we’re not doing well.

“Those responsible for the sports management must also assume their responsibilities and, above all, take ownership of the decisions they make. Finally, I think that when talking about players, names should be given. Because if not then we are tarred with comments that are said and are not true.”

Messi’s exception to Abidal’s comments is now believed to have alerted the hierarchy at Manchester City, with the club’s board believing they are in a strong position to land the Argentina international should he seek a shock departure from the Camp Nou.

According to the Manchester Evening News, City are hopeful the positions of Pep Guardiola as manager, alongside former Barca boardroom figures in chief executive Ferran Soriano and football director Txiki Begiristain can strengthen their position in tempting Messi to the Premier League.

Guardiola and Messi enjoyed a glittering period together at the La Liga champions and the City boss would undoubtedly love the opportunity to once again work with the world’s best player, whilst a clause in his Barcelona contract increases hope a deal can be reached should the 32-year-old decide to depart.

Messi, like iconic figures such as Xavi and Andres Iniesta before him, has a clause in his contract – which expires in 2021 – allowing him to leave for nothing this summer.

Barcelona have rewarded some of their most legendary players with the ability to choose their own future following years of dedicated service, and City could capitalise should Messi do the previously unthinkable and take on a new challenge in the latter stages of his career.

Reports in Italy claim that Manchester United, PSG, Juventus and Inter Milan are also unsurprisingly interested in the six-time Ballon d’Or winner should he decide to leave.

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See also – 10 best quotes about the Lionel Messi