Transfer news: Barcelona forward Lionel Messi admits his interest in Manchester City... sort of

City's Argentinian right-back reveals that the two remain close friends from their time in Barcelona and Messi asked him what life was like at the Etihad

Lionel Messi’s Argentinian team-mate Pablo Zabaleta has revealed that the current Ballon d’Or holder often quizzes him about what life is like with Manchester City, but could he be set for a blockbuster move to the Premier League.

Messi’s future with the current Spanish champions has come into question this season following reports of a disagreement between the Argentinian forward and Barcelona’s medical team, although this was rubbished by the player’s management team.

Furthermore, club president Sandro Rosell was forced to deny that the new deal handed to Cristiano Ronaldo worth £14m a year had caused Messi to demand a renegotiation of his own, with his current contract running until 2016 with a £209m release clause.

The speculation regarding the state of his happiness at the Nou Camp has triggered talk of a move away from the club he joined back in 2000 when he became part of the youth set-up, with Bayern Munich, Chelsea and now Manchester City being muted as possible destinations.

And Zabaleta, who joined City in 2008 when he was signed from Espanyol, admits that the two are still close friends from their days in Barcelona and that Messi always quizzes him about the club.

“I remember when we were in Barcelona we were very close friends because we were living in the same city and had known each other for a number of years,” admitted Zabaleta. “I was just starting out at Espanyol and Lionel was at Barça. When I signed for City I think two days later the news broke that Sheikh Mansour had bought the club and Lionel always recalls that I joined at such a fantastic time.

“He asked me a lot about City but I couldn't tell him much because I didn't know much myself – but it's something we often talk about. Plus the fact that I'm still here.”

With City already securing their qualification for the Champions league last-16 thanks to the win over CSKA Moscow last time out, Zabaleta admits that a potential draw against Barcelona would be one to relish, and feels his club would have a genuine chance at knocking out the club that has claimed the trophy three times in the last eight seasons.

“If we have to face Barca in the Champions League, we will be ready and I think it will be a fantastic game – but we'll wait and see,” he added. “I played against Messi for Espanyol against Barca and I recall in my second season at City when we played in the Nou Camp in the Joan Gamper Trophy and we won 1-0 with a goal from Martin Petrov. So I think we are about level at the moment.”

Following their 6-0 drubbing of Tottenham on Sunday, City sit fourth in the Premier League table, six points off leaders Arsenal, but Zabaleta hasn’t ruled out claiming an unprecedented treble of the Premier League, Champions League and World Cup in the same season.

“I don't know, the good thing is we are in the race for all those trophies and as a player you have to try and win everything you are involved in,” Zabaleta said cautiously.

“There are differences between each competition, of course. The Premier League is over 38 games while the Champions League and World Cup is over fewer games and anything can happen. From my own experience, winning the Premier League was so special because it means everything to the players and the supporters and it is the biggest prize in England.

“As for the Champions League, we are up against the best teams in Europe and it is a difficult competition to win being realistic. But we will try our best and you never know in football.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Sport
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style