Barcelona: Koeman hopes Messi stays for 'many more years'
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Chelsea have been handed a potential chance to move ahead of Manchester City in the race to sign Lionel Messi. The Argentine superstar is out of contract at Barcelona in the summer, with the Blues and City two of the clubs who have long been linked with signing him.
It has once again been a stunning campaign for Messi, despite Barca enduring a disappointing season under Ronald Koeman.
Koeman’s men finished third in La Liga after falling away from the title race in the final weeks, as well as crashing out of the Champions League at the Last 16 stage.
But Messi has continued to show why he is one of the best players in the world, scoring 30 goals in 35 games in the Spanish top-flight.
That saw him set a new record for most consecutive seasons as the golden boot winner in the division, with this the fifth successive season he has been La Liga’s top scorer.
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While Messi has continued to impress though, Barca have fallen into disarray off the pitch, with mammoth debts now hamstringing the club.
That means there is set to be a major rebuild this summer, with many members of the squad set to be allowed to leave.
The 33-year-old’s contract expires this summer and it appears that he is closer than ever to departing the Nou Camp.
Messi came close to leaving last year, when Barca’s continued spiral downwards saw his close friend Luis Suarez allowed to depart.
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Though the Argentine ultimately stayed in Catalonia, Barca’s fall from grace could see him leave for club challenging for silverware.
One of the main contenders is City, where Messi could link back up with former manager Pep Guardiola, under whom he enjoyed so much success.
Guardiola requires a replacement for star striker Sergio Aguero, who has been released, but the City boss has hinted that Messi will stay in Spain.
“Maybe I reveal a secret. Maybe he is close to agreeing a deal for the club of my heart – for Barcelona,” Guardiola told the BBC’s Match of the Day programme.
“He is going to be playing alongside the best player of all time, Messi.
“I’m pretty sure he is going to enjoy. And maybe Barcelona are stronger and stronger with him on the pitch.”
The hint that Aguero will play alongside Messi if he does indeed complete a move to Barcelona appears to have ruled City out of the race to lodge a contract offer with the superstar.
That could open the door for Chelsea to submit an offer, with the Blues able to show they are challenging for silverware having reached the finals of both the FA Cup and Champions League this season.
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