Though the Argentine ultimately stayed in Catalonia, Barca’s fall from grace could see him leave for club challenging for silverware.
One of the main contenders is City, where Messi could link back up with former manager Pep Guardiola, under whom he enjoyed so much success.
Guardiola requires a replacement for star striker Sergio Aguero, who has been released, but the City boss has hinted that Messi will stay in Spain.
“Maybe I reveal a secret. Maybe he is close to agreeing a deal for the club of my heart – for Barcelona,” Guardiola told the BBC’s Match of the Day programme.