By Andrew Atkinson

Lionel Messi has been linked with a move to Manchester City after reports he called off negotiations over renewing his current deal with Barcelona and set to leave the Catalans when his contract ends in 2021 after approaching 500 appearances at the club.

Argentine journalist Christian Martin said Manchester City will attempt to sign him: “Latest news: The possibility that Leo Messi leaves Barcelona to come to Manchester City is real.

“I can confirm through my sources in Catalonia and England,” Martin Tweeted.

Argentina star Messi and his father, Jorge, had begun talks over renewing  his current contract, signed in 2017, reported he no longer wishes to advance negotiations.

Reports cite six times Ballon d’Or winner Messi’s decision are due off-field spats, including being accused of playing a role in the sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde in January.

Messi, 33, reportedly posted on Instagram, accusing Valverde of tarnishing the players’ reputations and demand that he takes responsibility for his own decisions.

Messi also reportedly criticised the board, for implying that players were not willing to take a coronavirus pay cut, to support the club’s financial situation.

He has extended his contract eight times, since 2005. It is understood his last extension carried a clause, allowing him to leave at the end of any season.

It is mooted Barca captain Messi can only walk out of the LaLiga champions to join a team outside Europe.

Messi has previously expressed interest in returning to Argentina, with former club Newell’s Old Boys, where he played during 1994-2000.

On Messi possibly departing La Liga, rivals Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane said: “I don’t know what will happen – but we hope not because he is in this league and we want the best in this league.”