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Report: Messi keen on joining Manchester City, has spoken to Guardiola

A. Beier / FC Bayern / Getty

Lionel Messi has been in contact with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and is "keen" on a move to the Premier League club, sources told The Athletic.

Messi reportedly dropped a bombshell on Barcelona when he informed officials on Tuesday that he wants to terminate his contract and leave the Catalan side this summer.

His desire to depart had been building before that, though.

Conversations with Guardiola took place a few days after Barcelona's humbling Champions League exit earlier this month, according to Rodrigo Faez and Moises Llorens of ESPN.

Though City haven't outwardly stated their intent to bring the Argentine star to Manchester, they're reportedly ready to sign the 33-year-old if he's available on a free transfer this summer. Doing so would reunite him with Guardiola, who coached Messi from 2008 to 2012 while at Barca.

The next few days will be "decisive" in determining whether the English club can make a deal happen, The Athletic's Sam Lee reports.

It's unclear whether the clause allowing Messi to terminate his contract is still valid. It was supposed to expire in June, but, because the season was extended, Messi's camp has operated under the assumption that the clause is good until the end of August.

A legal battle could now develop between Barcelona and Messi. The club insists the clause is valid and that any team interested in signing Messi will have to meet his €700-million release price.

The Guardian's Fabrizio Romano told CBS Sports it's "impossible" for any team to pay that much for Messi and denied rumors that Inter Milan will make a move for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Some believe Messi is simply putting pressure on Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign as Barcelona president. Fans chanted outside the club's headquarters for Bartomeu to step down Tuesday, and former club captain Carles Puyol tweeted his support for Messi.

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