Manchester City were ready to offer Lionel Messi an astonishing £88milion signing on bonus when his Barcelona future appeared in doubt, according to reports in Spain.
The five-time Ballon d’Or-winner only signed a new contract in November — two months before he would have been able to discuss a free transfer in the summer with other clubs.
And Marca claim City were ready to take full advantage by offering Messi a signing on fee which is nearly double their record transfer — while also pay him a staggering £850,000-a-week after tax.
There were suggestions he was genuinely contemplating the idea of leaving the club he had been with since the age of 13.
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After watching Real Madrid win La Liga and the Champions League, Los Blancos then beat Barcelona to the signing of Spanish starlet Dani Ceballos.
Meanwhile, the Catalans lost Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain and failed in their attempts to land Philippe Coutinho and Marco Verratti.
The complete shift in power seemed complete when Real Madrid beat Barcelona 5-1 on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup.
And shortly afterwards, rumours emerged that Messi had yet to finalise his new contract.
Pep Guardiola was keen on a reunion at City, while Chinese Super League side Tianjin Quanjian were also alerted to his availability.
However, he ended any possibility of leaving the Nou Camp by penning a new deal four-year deal with a £626m buy-out clause.