Lionel Messi is set to depart after an incredible career at the Nou Camp-scoring an astonishing 634 goals and creating 285 assists for the Spanish giants in 731 appearances.
The eyes of Manchester City are lit up following Messi’s surprise decision and a meeting at the Etihad with Pep Guardiola is definitely on the cards.
Here Sportsmail responds to the all-important questions about the story of the transfer that dominates world football …
WHEN COULD BE THE BEST TIME FOR AN EXIT FROM BARCA FOR MESSI?
This is probably the greatest challenge owing to the questions surrounding the legitimacy of the release clause for Lionel Messi. Messi had to state his intention by June 10 to leave on a free which he did not do this year.
However the Argentine star claims that due to the coronavirus pandemic the deadline would have been moved back in line with the season extension.
Messi and his family say he should be able to leave on a free transfer. On the other hand, Barcelona says the contrary and the deadline was June 10, which has now passed.
AND WHAT COULD BE DONE NOW?
Man City could press for FIFA to obtain an international transfer certificate (ITC) that would allow them to register Messi before the October 5 transfer window shuts.
That would not be the end of the matter, though, as FIFA will have to determine whether Man City or Barcelona are in the right. The hearing could not be held until early in 2021.
WHEN COULD ENGLAND SEE HIS ARRIVAL?
It seems like as soon as Man City can get him here after putting him in the ITC it will be a while before the whole thing is fully resolved.
If FIFA were to rule in Messi’s favor, that’ll fairly much be the end of the matter with no financial consequences for City … other than the whopping wage. The current deal from Messi is worth up to £100m per annum all in.
However, if FIFA ruled against Messi it could get messy. That could leave Man City to pay out the last year of Messi’s contract with a heavy bill. They might also penalized for forcing the move.
HOW CAN THIS BE SETTLED?
Either Messi heads to an employment tribunal to defend his case and seeking to get out of his contract that includes a £635m termination clause or he offers to buy himself out of a deal with Barcelona.
The former would not have been a fast procedure or resolved before the transition deadline of October 5.
Since none of these situations nor a drawn-out legal fight will match any other alternative, Barcelona agrees that Messi really wants to quit and find a compromise with Man City.
HOW SOON WILL HE BE CHANCED TO TEAM UP WITH PEP GUADIOLA ONCE AGAIN?
The two have already been in touch over the phone about moving to the Etihad, also discussing how Messi could settle in England and learn the language after nearly 20 years in Spain, and there is a increasing feeling that he is truly serious about leaving Barcelona for a reunion and this is not just a power play.
How soon the two will rejoin in the flesh will hinge on who will make the next move.
COULD MESSI START PLAYING FOR MAN CITY SOONER OR LATER?
This will also depend on the above and how the situation unfolds–should Man City take matters into its own hands and force the issue or wait for Messi to settle the wrangle at its end before moving?
So far, Messi seems to be participating in next week pre-season training at Barcelona. Man City kicks off their Premier League season as they fly to Wolves in just over three weeks.
So couldn’t they have him by then? ….The idea of Man City signing Messi has long seemed to be just a fantasy but now, after developments this week, it is not quite as far-fetched after all.