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Report: Manchester City's offer to Messi could include stint in MLS

Alex Caparros / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Lionel Messi could close out his record-breaking career in Major League Soccer.

Manchester City are considering offering the 33-year-old a three-year contract and the chance to play for sister club New York City FC after his time in the Premier League, sources told ESPN's Rodrigo Faez and Moises Llorens.

Messi reportedly informed Barcelona on Tuesday that he wants to leave the club, invoking a clause in his contract that allows him to unilaterally terminate his deal. City emerged as one of the favorites to land the Argentinian maestro, along with Paris Saint-Germain and Inter Milan, but reports Tuesday suggested Messi had already spoken with City manager Pep Guardiola about a potential move to the Etihad. Messi is reportedly keen to reunite with Guardiola, who mentored the fleet-footed No. 10 at the Camp Nou from 2008-12.

But a legal battle is looming over Messi. Barcelona argue the window has passed to activate the termination clause and that any team interested in signing Messi would have to meet his €700-million release clause. However, the player's camp is adamant he has until the end of August due to the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're not thinking about any clause in his contract," Ramon Planes, Barcelona's newly appointed sporting director, told reporters Wednesday. "Messi's marriage to Barca has brought a lot to both (the club and the player), a lot of joy to the supporters and, internally, we are working to convince Messi to find the best solution for Barca and for Messi."

City seem to believe they have a genuine chance of signing Messi. Days after Barcelona's calamitous 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich, Guardiola had a conversation with Messi to sell City's project, according to Faez and Llorens.

That project could also include a de facto retirement plan, namely a short stint in MLS, and the opportunity to become an ambassador for the City Football Group, the holding company that has stakes in City, NYCFC, the A-League's Melbourne City, La Liga's Girona FC, the Indian Super League's Mumbai City FC, and the J-League's Yokohama Marinos.

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