Manchester City is exploring a potential avenue to sign Barcelona star Lionel Messi without breaking Financial Fair Play rules. According to ESPN, a deal for Messi could be complicated, but the Premier League side wants to be prepared should the option of bringing him aboard arise in the next few months.

Firstly, Manchester City will look into the costs involved with adding Lionel Messi should Barcelona agree to sell for a reasonable price. The Barcelona board has reportedly started to prepare a plan for selling Messi, who expressed discontent to new boss Ronald Koeman, telling him he saw himself more “out than in” after an embarrassing 8-2 defeat at the feet of Bayern Munich during the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal.

Barcelona's official stance is that Messi is not for sale and any interested parties will be referred to a gargantuan €700 million ($827 million) release clause.

Messi will be out of his contract in 2021, but he's aware he doesn't have many years left at this elite level, hoping to ensure his final seasons are spent at a club that's constantly challenging for some of Europe's top trophies.

That hasn't been the case in Barcelona, after UEFA Champions League losses to AS Roma in 2018, Liverpool in 2019, and most recently seeing his team steamrolled by eventual champion Bayern Munich.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who coached Messi in Barcelona, has paid no mind to the transfer rumors, confident the megastar will remain at the Camp Nou. Yet the club has always kept a keen eye on Messi's situation, regardless of the strength of rumors.

Man City is coming off a recent win over UEFA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following accusations of violations of the Financial Fair Play. The club had to pay a €10 million fine for refusing to cooperate in UEFA's initial investigation and will now have to toe the line very carefully to avoid another investigation.

To make a move for Lionel Messi, Manchester City would need Barcelona to drop his release clause to a much more reasonable price, likely needing toat least halve their asking price to warrant a bid from the Premier League side.