Spanish football expert Graham Hunter has claimed that Manchester City retain a long-term interest in Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.
At a time when the Catalan giants are underdogs to retain the La Liga title, speculation persists that Messi may look to move away from Camp Nou over the next 12 months.
Providing that Pep Guardiola does not remain at the Etihad Stadium in the long term, Hunter says that City officials will do everything possible to sign the legendary Argentine.
Speaking to talkSPORT, Hunter said: "The number one club who has tried to take Lionel Messi away from Barcelona is Manchester City under their current ownership.
"If the ownership has the idea of taking a 34-year-old Leo Messi, still in prime condition, one year after his final Ballon d'Or if he doesn't win it again this season.
"I think Guardiola has doubts about how well Messi will work in the system because of the level of pressure and work off the ball. He's allowed to do what he wants at Barcelona but if Guardiola moved on and Messi was free in a year's time, Man City's ownership would go hell for leather to sign him."
Despite Messi's contract being due to expire next summer, there appears to be little prospect of a renewal over the coming months.