There has been yet more controversy in the race for the signature of Barcelona star Lionel Messi – and it may well benefit Manchester City.
City are battling Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain to try to convince the six-time Ballon d’Or winner to join them at the end of the season when his contract with Barca comes to an end.
It’s fair to say the two clubs are using somewhat different methods in order to try to woo the Argentinean forward, however.
While City have been keeping their cards close to their chest so far, members of the PSG camp such as Angel Di Maria, Neymar and manager Mauricio Pochettino have all publicly given their backing to a potential move.
This has infuriated Barcelona, with their coach Ronald Koeman accusing the French club of “disrespect”.
And Nou Camp representatives will have been far from impressed with the front cover of popular newspaper French Football on Tuesday.
The outlet carried a picture of a smiling Messi mocked up in a PSG shirt, along with the headline “The secret card of PSG”.
Their report claims that Neymar is playing a part in attempting to lure Messi to the Parc des Princes, and they appear confident he will make a sensational move when his Barcelona contract expires in June.
PSG have moved quickly to disassociate themselves with the publication, with Pochettino insisting they had nothing to do with the front cover.
But even so, such a blatant and relentless pursuit may not best please Messi as well as his team.
The 33-year-old is well-known for his modest, shy demeanor off the pitch, and he has never been one to seek media attention.
Indeed, a source recently told ESPN : “PSG are making a mistake with the strategy they’re using.
“Leo doesn’t like all that noise in the media and even less the type of comments [which have been made].”
Despite his recent rocky patch with Barcelona, Messi will also still want to leave the club on good terms, and would not want to risk tarnishing his legacy with supporters if he does eventually move on.
For this reason, both PSG and the French media’s aggressive tactics appear to be over-the-top at best.
They remain quietly confident of persuading him on spending a season or two at the Etihad, especially given his previous links with Pep Guardiola.
Messi is not likely to make a definitive decision on his future destination until April or May at the earliest.
But despite all PSG’s posturing, they may unwittingly have given City a bit of hope.