City's Messi

Man City’s Messi contract could include New York City FC clause – sources – ESPN

7:53 AM ET

  • Rodrigo Faez

  • Moises Llorens

Manchester City are weighing up offering Lionel Messi a long-term contract that would see him move to MLS partner club New York City FC after three years in the Premier League, several sources have told ESPN.

They could also offer Messi the chance to become an ambassador for the City Football Group, the holding company that owns a number of clubs across the world, including City and NYCFC.

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– Lowe: Messi, bad blood and burofax

Messi, 33, would have the chance to help City win the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history before hanging up his boots in the United States.

City have emerged as the favourites to sign Messi after he shocked Barcelona by telling them he wants to leave on Tuesday.

ESPN revealed on Monday that City were already looking into whether a deal for the Argentina forward would be financially viable.

City will do everything possible to pursue the option of signing Messi on a free transfer, but various sources have told ESPN they would contemplate the possibility of paying between €100 and €150 million if he is unable to force an exit unilaterally.

The same sources add that City could also include players in any potential deal, such as Eric Garcia and Angelino. ESPN have also learned that Messi has consulted various legal experts regarding the clause in his contract but has not been able to gauge a clear reading on the situation.

The issue could end up in court, although various sources close to the operation expect there to be willing on both sides to reach an agreement if Messi follows through with his threat to leave.

The agreement would involve Barca naming a reasonable fee to allow Messi to leave the club which could then be re-invested in rebuilding Ronald Koeman’s team.

Other sources have confirmed to ESPN that City coach Pep Guardiola spoke to Messi last week to explain the project he would be involved in at the Etihad Stadium.

Messi has since taken the first step toward leaving Camp Nou, and City are closely monitoring the developments, albeit with the acknowledgment that any deal will have to be done without breaching UEFA’s financial fair play rules.

Therefore, it will be important to know if Messi can leave Barca for free or if City will have to negotiate a fee with the La Liga side. Messi’s contract runs until 2021 and includes a €700 million release clause.

However, Messi hopes to execute a clause that would allow him to leave for free. The clause was included in his 2017 renewal and stipulates that he’s allowed to leave for free at the end of each season if he notifies the club within a certain time frame.

Barca maintain that the window to use the clause has expired, but Messi’s legal team are arguing that it’s still valid due to the extension to the season caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at the presentation of Francisco Trincao on Wednesday, Barcelona sporting director Ramon Planes said the club will fight to change Messi’s mind.

“As we have said many times, we’re still thinking of Messi as a Barca player,” Planes said. “Barca have rebuilt themselves many times throughout history and have always bounced back stronger. Our idea is to rebuild around the best player in the world.

“There’s a huge amount of respect for Leo because of what he is and his story here, but we’re not thinking about any contractual clause. We can’t have a public dispute between Barca and Messi, because neither side deserves that.

“The marriage between Messi and Barca has given both parties a lot. It has given the fans a huge amount of joy, and we have to fight for that relationship to continue. Internally, we’re working hard to convince Messi to stay. We want to find the best solution for Barca and for Messi.”

Asked whether there were other people at the club who would be open to parting with Messi, Planes added that everyone wanted the same thing.

“There is no internal division on this at all. Anyone that understands a little bit about football wants to have Leo in their team,” he said.

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City's latest

New York City’s latest reopening phase leaves much of the economy still frozen – Politico

Dining chairs and tables are stacked at Little Tong Noodle Shop. | AP Photo/John Minchillo

Dining chairs and tables are stacked at Little Tong Noodle Shop in New York. | AP Photo/John Minchillo

NEW YORK — New York City entered the fourth and final scheduled phase of its coronavirus reopening on Monday, but Mayor Bill de Blasio said there’s no timeline for when still-shuttered indoor facilities like restaurants, museums, theaters and malls will be able to open.

Until they do, the city’s economy remains largely at a standstill. A report from the Partnership for New York City, first reported Monday by POLITICO, painted a bleak picture of the city’s economic future. As many as one-third of the 230,000 or so small businesses across the city may close permanently. A report from the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce found more than half of that borough’s small businesses were struggling to stay open through the summer.


The phase four reopening does include some outdoor cultural sites like zoos and botanic gardens. The Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, New York Botanical Garden, Empire State Building observation deck and outdoor sections of Liberty Island are among the iconic spots opening this week, with capacity limits in place and some with the first days open only to members.

“The heroic efforts of New Yorkers fighting back this disease have made this possible,” de Blasio said during his daily briefing Monday. “So many things are moving forward.”

TV, movie and music production have the green light to start up on Monday, and professional sports are returning with no fans.

Since it began to emerge from a monthslong lockdown in early June, the city has every two weeks entered a new phase of the reopening plan. Now that it has reached phase four, there are no more planned milestones on the calendar.

Indoor restaurants and bars have been ordered to stay shut in the city, and indoor museums were nixed from the fourth phase. Gyms, movie theaters and malls are among the other businesses still under indefinite shutdown orders.

“There’s so much concern about certain types of indoor activities, and right now we are all about keeping New York City safe, being smart, being cautious about it,” de Blasio said.

“We do not have a deadline, quote unquote, by which we’re looking to make a decision on indoor dining or malls,” he said. “We want to keep watching the overall situation in the country, the overall situation in the city, and how all these other things interact — including, most obviously, when people start to come back more in September to school and work.”

Jay Varma, a top public health adviser to the mayor, said the city was shaping its approach based on the experience of other places where reopening has sparked a surge in virus cases.

“We understand completely this presents an incredible challenge for the businesses throughout the city. But we’ve seen what has happened in many other places around the world — particularly places that have done an exceptional job at controlling this epidemic — have had to repeatedly open and close indoor bars, restaurants, other shopping facilities because of resurgence,” he said.

“We need to be very cautious because of the experiences throughout the world.”

The city has been reporting a few hundred new coronavirus cases each day, and there has been an increase in the infection rate among young adults.

In the latest data reported Monday, 74 people entered hospitals for Covid-19 symptoms, public hospital ICUs were treating 311 patients and 2 percent of coronavirus tests came back positive.

De Blasio also vowed enforcement against establishments that flout social distancing rules — saying an Astoria lounge, Brik, which was a focal point for maskless crowds partying on Steinway Street over the weekend, has been shut down.

“No one wants to shut down bars and restaurants, but if they do not cooperate in our efforts to contain the coronavirus, they will be shut down,” de Blasio said. “If we have to, we’ll give out summonses. So there will be heavier enforcement by the sheriff’s office, and when needed by the NYPD as well, around bars and restaurants.”

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