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Gary Neville believes Lionel Messi will STAY at Barcelona despite indicating desire to leave

Gary Neville claims Lionel Messi telling Barcelona he wants to leave is a power move and believes the Argentine will end up staying at the Catalan giants.

Messi informed chiefs at the Camp Nou of his desire to move last week via burofax, with further talks set to be held with the club’s board as he attempts to amicably make his way out of Barcelona. 

Manchester City are among the favourites to sign Messi if he does end up leaving LaLiga, but Neville believes a compromise will be reached that keeps the South American in Catalonia.

‘I think it’s politics and power struggle. Messi is flexing his muscles,’ Neville told Sky Sports.

‘It’s probably a bit more than that, but I think that is where it will end up in the end.

‘The idea that Barcelona will lose this player and he doesn’t finish his career there seems unbelievable to me. Does he really want to leave? Maybe.

‘But when push comes to shove and he’s got to meet with the president, the board and everyone else standing in his way, I think he will end up staying.’

However, former Manchester United right-back Neville conceded that arch rivals City remain the most likely destination if Messi does leave the Camp Nou so that he can reunite with former boss Pep Guardiola.

Neville also admitted he would love to see Messi on the Premier League stage to help raise the profile of the division, but his affiliation with the Old Trafford club means he would be yearning to see the 33-year-old flop.

‘If he were to come to the Premier League, I think it would be to work with Pep.

‘Would I want to see it? I think I would have to say yes, because the idea of watching Messi close up, something I have done over the last 10 years, really is something to behold.

‘Would I want to stand in the way of every single young fan in this country having the opportunity to see him at close hand when fans are back in stadiums, no I wouldn’t.

‘But I just hope he doesn’t do very well for them!’

PSG have also been linked with a move with Messi, with reports in France claiming former Barcelona team-mate Neymar and compatriot Angel di Maria have been in touch to convince him to move to the Ligue 1 champions.

Messi’s current deal runs until 2021, but he believes he has a clause in his contract allowing him to move for free provided he informed the club he wanted to leave 20 days prior to June 10 – which was originally the end of season date.

The player’s legal advisers are however arguing that he should have had an extended period to indicate he wanted out as the ‘end of the season’ this year was not until the final of the Champions League between Bayern Munich and PSG which took place on August 23.

Messi’s fixed salary totals £64million (€71m) but bonuses for signing, for staying, and for winning trophies takes the figure well above that. Just by playing 60 per cent of games until the 2021 date when his contract ends sees Messi earn on average £95m (€106m) a season. But the potential – if he were to win the treble and win FIFA’s player of the year award – exists to push the final figure over the £110m (€122m) mark.

It is understood Messi only made it clear that he wanted to sign for another club this summer in the days leading up to last Sunday’s final, and Barcelona are confident he would not have a legal case if they denied his exit. 

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