Manchester City expect to sign Lionel Messi next summer when his contract at Barcelona expires, according to Eurosport Spain, who say “Barca have won an extra ball but not the game”.
Messi reluctantly agreed to stay at Camp Nou on Friday to avoid a legal dispute with the club.
The 33-year-old claimed Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu had broken a promise to let him leave, denying him a reunion with Pep Guardiola at City.
However, Eurosport Spain say City are still confident of recovering the negotiations with Messi and his father Jorge, while Guardiola is relieved that there will be no messy court proceedings with his former club.
City, who can negotiate a pre-contract agreement with Messi from January, will offer the Argentine three seasons in England and another two at New York City in MLS.
Messi is thought to favour the move as it not only guarantees him five more years of football, but also boosts his hopes of winning another Champions League and a record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or.
“I want to compete at the highest level, win titles, compete in the Champions League. You can win or lose in it, because it is very difficult, but you have to compete,” Messi told Goal.
Messi informed Barcelona of his decision to leave in August, but a €700 million release clause proved a stumbling block as he eventually agreed to stay in Catalonia.