Chelsea are “in the equation” to sign Barcelona star Lionel Messi next summer, according to Spanish football expert Guillem Balague.
Messi’s current contract expires at the end of the season and it is widely expected that the Argentinian will leave the club he has played for since 2004.
The 33-year-old nearly left Barca in the summer during the turbulence around former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who eventually resigned in October.
After a row over a €700million buyout clause in his contract, Messi ended up deciding to stay and honour the final year of his deal.
But with his contract winding down and Barcelona under financial pressure due to the coronavirus pandemic, it looks likely Messi will seek pastures new next year and Balague believes Chelsea’s deep pockets makes Stamford Bridge a potential destination.
"Chelsea are definitely in the equation if Messi becomes available. That is true,” he said on hisYouTube channel.
"Chelsea will insist they want to hear everything that is going on.
"If they have the money they will want to be involved too. Remember, there is no transfer fee."
Chelsea showed they have the funds and ambition to attract a player of Messi’s calibre when they shelled out almost £230m in the summer transfer window to sign Kai Havertz, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and Edouard Mendy.
However, while owner Roman Abramovich might be willing to pay Messi’s wages, which are reported to be around £500,000 per week, he will face strong competition from Europe’s other heavyweight clubs.
A reunion with former manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, in particular, may be appealing for Messi.
"Messi rang Guardiola in the summer, they spoke for four hours about what it would mean for Messi to join City,” Balague continued.
"In those conversations I'm sure they talked about how he would play in the team.
"Will City try again? Yes they will. They will pay the £25m net minimum requirement.
"PSG were in contact with Messi's dad, you've got Inter Milan, Juventus want to put Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo together."
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