Manchester City are said to be willing to shatter the world transfer record to bring Lionel Messi to the Etihad this summer, if the Barcelona star continues to stall on extending his contract at the Camp Nou.
AS report that the Premier League leaders are prepared to shell out an incredible €400m in January to poach the Argentina superstar from the club he moved to as a teenager all of 16 years ago.
Barcelona announced back in July that a deal had been agreed to extend Messi's contract into 2021, but the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has still failed to actually put pen to paper on the contract - leaving open the possibility that he leaves the Catalan giants for another club on the cheap...relatively speaking.
The Primera Division leaders initially claimed that Messi would sign the deal when he returned from the Confederations Cup to pre-season training, but that mark passed well over a month ago; with clubs now more than half a dozen games through their league seasons.
While Barcelona chiefs continue to insist that there is nothing for fans to be concerned about and that Messi will - as fellow club legend Andres Iniesta did last week - end his contract hold-out and officially sign up for more success with the club.
In the short term though, Messi's focus will be elsewhere. His Argentina side face a tricky trip to Quito on Tuesday night, knowing that anything less than a win will leave them unlikely to qualify for the 2018 World Cup after a disastrous qualifying campaign.