'It would be special to play alongside Messi' - Man City defender Garcia addresses Barcelona links

Lionel Messi Barcelona 2020-21
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The Spanish defender has expressed his admiration towards the six-time Ballon d'Or winner amid rumours he is set to join him at Camp Nou

Manchester City star Eric Garcia has admitted it would be "special" to play alongside Lionel Messi while addressing transfer links with Barcelona.

Garcia is expected to leave the Etihad Stadium when his contract expires at the end of the season, with City boss Pep Guardiola having revealed in January that the defender is unlikely to sign an extension.

Goal has reported that the 20-year-old has already reached an agreement to join Barca, and he says he would welcome the chance to link up with Messi at Camp Nou.

What's been said?

Speaking at a press conference ahead of Spain's opening set of 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Garcia told reporters: "Everyone knows that Messi is the best player in the world, it would be special for anyone [to play alongside him], week after week what he does is incredible."

Pressed on whether he has held any talks with newly-elected Barca president Joan Laporta over a free transfer move, the City defender responded: "No, neither Laporta nor anyone else has contacted me.

"I made the decision not to renew [with City] - and what I will do, I don't know. The only option I have right now is to focus on the present."

Will Garcia join Barca this summer?

Eric Garcia Manchester City Barcelona GFX

Ronald Koeman originally wanted to sign Garcia in the winter transfer window, but a proposed €3m deal ultimately fell through due to Barca's mounting financial problems.

The Spanish giants have posted record-breaking losses amid the coronavirus pandemic, and have taken steps to reduce their wage bill in order to balance the books.

Garcia was made to wait for a move to Camp Nou as a result, with Laporta revealing that Koeman had accepted the club's stance on the player before his re-election at the start of the month.

"He [Koeman] understood the reasoning behind not signing Eric Garcia," said Laporta. "It was for sporting and financial consistency, and because the statutes says it's not possible (for the club to make signings without a president in place).”

Barca will likely be in a stronger financial position in the summer, though, with several first-team stars being touted for moves away which could pave the way for Garcia's arrival on a free.

Why do Barca want Garcia?

Garcia has caught the attention of officials at Camp Nou with his stellar displays in a City shirt over the past three years, having been handed his senior debut by Guardiola back in 2018.

The Spain international has racked up 33 appearances across all competitions for the Manchester outfit since then, claiming Carabao Cup and Community Shield winners' medals along the way.

Garcia has proven he can perform at the highest level in both the Premier League and Champions League, and is capable of operating as both a centre-half and an orthodox left-back.

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His versatility could help solve a defensive conundrum for Koeman, who has been short of options at the back throughout the 2020-21 campaign due to a series of injuries to key personnel.

Garcia has also been touted as Gerard Pique's long-term successor, with the World Cup winner now approaching the latter stages of his career at 34.

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