Inter Milan chief Giuseppe Marotta has emphatically played down the chances of the club sensationally signing Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
Messi’s contract at the Nou Camp expires in the summer of 2021, and it was recently reported by Italian outlet Gazzetta dello Sport that Inter’s majority shareholders Suning Holdings Group are plotting a move for the 33-year-old.
The report claimed that Inter’s owners believe they have the cash to lure the Argentine superstar to the San Siro next year.
Furthermore, a stir was caused in Milan and beyond on Tuesday after a picture of Messi projected onto the city’s cathedral was doing the rounds on social media.
But according to Italian media, Inter’s majority owners used the image to publicise the televising of the club’s game against Napoli on Tuesday evening in China.
And Marotta insisted that he cannot see how Inter can make any deal happen for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner at this moment in time.
Marotta told Sky Sport Italia: ‘Messi on the cathedral? It wasn’t my idea. It reminds me of football from the past with such situations. We are talking about an icon, a great player, a desire that everyone has.’
Marotta went onto stress that it would be ‘extraordinary to see such a champion at Inter’, before adding: ‘It’s fantasy football, a utopian situation.’
Marotta then added: ‘Our football [in Italy] needs a lift. Champions raise the value of the Italian brand and football. If we could consider ours to be a championship in which the great champions come and stay, it would be better.
‘No Italian team is capable of carrying out such an operation unless extraordinary factors arise related to the shareholders, and therefore the actual owners.
‘Let’s not forget that we must respect FFP [Financial Fair Play]. This year, Covid-19 has ensured that there is some flexibility, but afterwards the rules will have to be respected.
‘Suning has already injected many millions into the company. Today investments have to give continuity and be done with a project.’
Though a farewell with Barcelona still seems unthinkable, Messi’s contract does expire next year and given his current unhappiness amid a season of upheaval on and off the pitch, potential suitors are circling.