Lionel Messi to Chelsea: Barcelona star could cost £500m in total - but only Manchester United and Real Madrid could afford him

Speculation continues to mount - but could Chelsea actually afford him?

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The Independent Football

With the Lionel Messi speculation refusing to die down the Barcelona superstar has reportedly told Chelsea and Manchester City he will join them - but it will cost a massive £500million.

Taking into account Messi's expected £200m release clause, the added cost comes from wages and bonuses, according to a report in The Sun, with a deal apparently set to go through in the summer.

Speculation at a Messi exit has been rife this week, his falling out with Luis Enrique, following Chelsea and City on Instagram and Spanish radio report claiming the two Premier League clubs have lodged an interest have all been well documented.

Combined with Messi's apparent unhappiness with the Spanish tax authorities, a potential move has never been closer.

However, a report this morning claimed that while the two clubs may be willing, Financial Fair Play would make it extremely tough for a potential deal.

"With the revenue they generate and cash reserves, only United and Real Madrid could pay the fee," Rob Wilson of Sheffield Hallam University told the BBC.

"With salary costs probably even they couldn't stay within FFP."

With Barcelona unlikely to agree to instalments, a potential package would lead to sanctions - like the £49m City and Paris Saint-Germain were forced to pay last year. Owners Roman Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan would be able to afford a deal but Uefa would likely come down hard.

Meanwhile Cesc Fabregas - whose friendship with Messi has been cited in reports - says he is not brokering as deal for his new club.

"It annoys me when people say I am the middleman in a move for Messi to Chelsea," Fabregas said. "I do not get involved in anything like that. I am a football player.

"Leo is happy at Barca and Barca are happy with him. All this is more simple and normal than what what has been made out of Leo following Chelsea on Instagram. Messi began to follow me out of respect, I guess, I also follow the news from other teams. I would doubt all that is said about Messi and Luis Enrique."

Messi scored a goal and recorded two assists against Elche as Luis Enrique resoted him to the starting line-up for their Copa Del Rey clash last night.

Chelsea assistant manager Steve Holland poured cold water on a potential move, stating it would be difficult to make it happen.

Facing the press in place of the absent Mourinho, Holland said: "Jose has made it quite clear his expectations are that nobody comes and nobody goes during the transfer window. We're perfectly happy with what we have.

"It's not a decision I personally would make. When you look at the numbers being mentioned around Messi, I would think it's an impossible deal for any club working within the financial fair play rules."

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