Barcelona seek Messi’s extension as Argentine may quit for free in 2020

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City's interest in Messi dates back before Guardiola's time, but the Spaniard tried to use his influence to lure the Argentina superstar to England in 2016.

Maradona further said that Barcelona ace is the best in the world along with Juventus striker Cristian Ronaldo, but Messi is not a leader.

Messi captained Argentina during their disappointing World Cup campaign in Russian Federation but hasn't been called up for global duty since.

Maradona, speaking from the Mexican state of Sinaloa where he coaches local second-tier side Dorados, said Messi's break was sensible.

Manchester City have refuted claims that they offered to triple Lionel Messi's salary in a bid to sign the Argentina global from Barcelona.

The Albiceleste great and former head coach, who at times handed Messi the armband during the 2010 World Cup, is adamant any return should come with the caveat of no captaincy.

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"For me it's hard to talk, but it's pointless wanting to make a man who goes to the bathroom 20 times before a match into the leader".

The 1986 World Cup victor went on to criticise Messi's leadership on and off the field, implying that he suffered from extreme nerves before big games and had to visit the toilet frequently.

Last month he refused to say if Messi would represent his country again after he opted out of two September friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia. He's the best in the world with Cristiano [Ronaldo]. According to Maradona, Messi "is not a leader" on the filed for Argentina and he should not be considered a football god.

"You have to take the leadership away for him to be the Messi we want him to be", Maradona added.

"I'd make him play as I want".

City chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak was quoted in Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo as saying he once made a lucrative offer for Messi, which would reportedly have paid him more than £1 million ($1.3 million) per week.