Barcelona Warned, Manchester City Is 'Serious' About £358 Million Bid for Lionel Messi

Messi and Guardiola
Lionel Messi, left, and Pep Guardiola in Munich on May 12, 2015. ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty

Manchester City is seriously considering making a bid that would almost double the current transfer world record if Lionel Messi doesn't sign a new contract at Barcelona, according to reports.

Barcelona announced in June that Messi was signing a contract extension that would keep him at the club until 2021. But that is yet to materialize, and the 30-year-old's current deal expires on June 30, meaning Messi could leave the club for free next summer.

Manchester City isn't willing to take the risk of waiting that long, though, according to Spanish newspaper AS, which says Pep Guardiola's team is monitoring the situation and could be ready to make a serious bid. So serious, in fact, that the fee being mentioned would shatter a transfer record that was already devastated this summer.

According to the report, City is preparing an offer of €400 million (about £358m/$470m) for Messi in January if he hasn't agreed to stay with Barcelona by then. That would see the world transfer record almost quadruple in just six months.

Related: Manchester United Rocked as Barcelona Makes Old Trafford Forward Its Top Transfer Target

In August, Paris Saint-Germain activated the release clause in Neymar's contract, paying Barcelona £199 million for the Brazilian forward. The transaction saw the world record more than double following Paul Pogba's £90 million move from Juventus to Manchester United in summer 2016.

But Manchester City has always had its sights set on Messi. In addition to making the Etihad Stadium look appealing to Pep Guardiola, employing Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, two former Barcelona executives, was also intended to attract Messi.

The question, however, was whether the Argentinian would ever leave Catalonia, and it remains that way. Since joining the famous La Masia academy as a 14-year-old boy in 2001, Messi has won eight La Liga titles, the Champions League four times, and the Ballon d'Or five times.

It seemed increasingly unlikely that he would ever leave. But with Neymar's departure and Barcelona entering a new era under Ernesto Valverde, the team's new manager, the prospect of reuniting with Guardiola in Manchester may appeal to Messi.