Manchester City are adopting a different approach to Paris Saint-Germain as they attempt to woo Lionel Messi to the English Premier League from the Spanish topflight.
The Barcelona star’s contract expires at the end of the season, and he has been permitted to speak to other clubs since January 1.
Due to his mammoth wages, City and PSG appear to be the only two European teams who could realistically afford the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
PSG have made no secret of their desire to sign Messi, with the likes of Angel Di Maria and Neymar all publicly giving the potential move their backing.
Their tactics have led to an angry response to Barcelona, and according to ESPN City have decided to take a much more low-key approach for this reason.
Rather than speaking about Messi in public, City have instead gone about their business quietly, with a number of staff said to be in regular contact with the Argentinean’s representatives.
And it is believed they are not planning to make an official approach until March or April as they bide their time to see how things play out.
It is not yet clear which of the two clubs would be Messi’s preference, but the prospect of linking up with former manager Pep Guardiola at the Etihad may well tilt the odds in City’s favour.
PSG, though, have allegedly already made Messi an eye-watering offer of an £800,000-a-week basic salary in addition to a staggering £40m signing-on fee – finances which City may not be able to compete with.
After an up-and-down start to the season dominated by off-field issues Messi appears to be getting back to his best in recent weeks.
He has scored seven goals and created one assist in his eight appearances since Christmas to help fire Barcelona back into contention for the La Liga title.
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And if it is, indeed, to be his last season at the Nou Camp Messi will be determined to go out with some more silverware under his belt.
His priority is known to be the Champions League, and Barca ironically face PSG in the first leg of their last-16 tie next week.