Gary Neville cannot see his former employers at Manchester United joining the race for Lionel Messi and hopes the mercurial Argentine “doesn’t do very well” if he ends up leaving Barcelona for Manchester City.
A switch to England continues to be mooted for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
Messi has informed those at Camp Nou of his desire to move on, with further talks set to be held with the Liga club’s board as he mulls over his options during a period of personal frustration.
Neville believes a compromise will be reached that keeps the South American in Catalunya, with an all-time great merely “flexing his muscles” and sending warning signals to the Blaugrana.
If a stunning switch were to be made, though, then the ex-United defender concedes that the Ethiad Stadium – alongside one-time Barca boss Pep Guardiola – is the most likely landing spot for Messi.
Neville would love to see Messi gracing a Premier League stage, helping to raise the profile of the division, but his strong ties to the Red Devils mean he would be longing to see the 33-year-old flop.
“I think it’s politics and power struggle. Messi is flexing his muscles,” Neville told Sky Sports of the biggest transfer saga in the current window.
“It’s probably a bit more than that, but I think that is where it will end up in the end.
“The idea that Barcelona will lose this player and he doesn’t finish his career there seems unbelievable to me. Does he really want to leave? Maybe.
“But when push comes to shove and he’s got to meet with the president, the board and everyone else standing in his way, I think he will end up staying.
“But if he were to come to the Premier League, I think it would be to work with Pep.
“Would I want to see it? I think I would have to say yes, because the idea of watching Messi close up, something I have done over the last 10 years, really is something to behold.
“Would I want to stand in the way of every single young fan in this country having the opportunity to see him at close hand when fans are back in stadiums, no I wouldn’t.
“But I just hope he doesn’t do very well for them!”
Goal has learned that Messi is to offer his side of a remarkable story at some point in the near future, but the transfer speculation appears set to continue for as long as an exit door remains ajar at Barcelona.