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.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power