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31 Mar, 2021 10:16

Messi to Man City is OFF as club ‘pull out of pursuit for Barcelona star’ – reports

Messi to Man City is OFF as club ‘pull out of pursuit for Barcelona star’ – reports

Reports from one of Catalonia's leading daily newspapers claim that Manchester City have given up on their pursuit of Barcelona legend Lionel Messi.

The scoop has been made by Pol Ballus, a Catalan living in Manchester, and Messi's compatriot Veronica Brunati.

As part of a front-page spread from SPORT on Wednesday, it is alleged that the "case is closed" on the Ballon d'Or holder.

The Etihad giants will reportedly move on to other targets in prioritizing a striker, and therefore call time on one of the biggest transfer sagas of the century.

Chief among these is Erling Haaland, who will take anything between $176.5 million to $235 million to land after becoming one of Europe's hottest properties.

And even though City have no particular ill feeling towards his club, Borussia Dortmund, relations with Haaland's agent Mino Raiola are worse than ever following an outburst from the controversial figure via The Athletic this week. 

"As for Mr [Pep] Guardiola, I’ve closed the book already a long time ago," Raiola began on City's coach, after a tirade against Sir Alex Ferguson. 

"Everybody knows what I think of him personally and he can say what he thinks for me personally. For the rest, I think he’s a great trainer. And that’s how it is. I will not shut up for anybody. I’ll give my opinion, I think that it is my right,” Raiola continued.

"With Mr Ferguson or Guardiola, I have this problem — and I think that it is changing now — that [they believe] we should submit to them because ‘otherwise, tomorrow, you don’t do a player with Manchester United’.

Also on rt.com Super-agent Raiola ‘doesn’t give a f*ck’ if he never deals with Man Utd again – hands potential ‘boost’ to Chelsea over Haaland

Barca could further dampen City's prospects domestically and on the continent by snatching Haaland from their grasp.

But this seems unlikely considering the Catalans are currently drowning in around $1.37 billion's worth of debt.

In any case, if Haaland winds up at Camp Nou or a Premier League rival such as Chelsea, City have a plan B in Harry Kane or Roman Lukaku.

In light of an official announcement on Monday, the Mancunians will bid farewell to Messi's close friend Sergio Aguero and are therefore in need of a target man to challenge Brazil international Gabriel Jesus for minutes. 

Simultaneously, Ronald Koeman has ruled out an approach for club all-time top scorer Aguero in favor of Memphis Depay.

Also on rt.com Barca ‘optimistic’ over Haaland transfer – but can they really dream of big names amid dire financial straits?

As for Messi, he looks increasingly likely to sign a new deal with the Blaugrana before his current arrangements expire on June 30, and SPORT claim City are also convinced of this.

Previously attempting to force an exit to City following an 8-2 humiliation administered by Bayern Munich in the Champions League, the 33-year-old had his wishes blocked by then-president Josep Bartomeu. 

Messi stayed put in order not to drag Barcelona through the courts, and has since started to enjoy his football again thanks to a revolution under Koeman and the emergence of bright talents such as 18-year-old sensation Pedri.

A two year deal has been rumored, which could be followed by a swansong with David Beckham's Inter Miami in the MLS given Messi owns a property in the Latino-tinged Floridian city. 

Meanwhile, Brunati has taken to Twitter to vent on the hardships of being a female journalist, in support of an open letter of protest made by her counterparts in France. 

"To be a [female] sports journalist?," she began. "[It's to] persist while they try to silence you. They pay you less than a man for the same job. Sometimes they extort you with sex in exchange for an opportunity, they accuse you of getting exclusives by sleeping with athletes, [and] you have to look young, beautiful, sexy."

Also on rt.com Barcelona boss Koeman ‘rules out’ move for Aguero despite chance to use Man City star to keep Messi at Camp Nou