MANCHESTER CITY is 'the best place' for Lionel Messi if he leaves Barcelona, according to his former Argentina team-mate Pablo Zabaleta.
Ex-City defender Zabaleta, 35, tipped Messi – who is in the last year of his contract at the Nou Camp – to prosper under old boss Pep Guardiola.
The former West Ham right-back suggested Messi might 'want to go and enjoy a few years' in the Premier League.
Messi had looked set to quit the Catalan giants last summer after expressing his desire for a new challenge but made a U-turn on the decision and eventually decided to stay.
City have long been linked with a move for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner and were the frontrunners to take him away from the Blaugrana before Messi opted to remain after his kids cried at the news he was leaving.
Zabaleta told Stadium Astro: "It is sad to see Messi in that situation.
"I never thought he would be in a final year of his contract at Barcelona.
"The team is not playing well and it seems that he is not enjoying his football. We will see what happens with Messi at the end of the season.
"He has a close friend in Sergio [Aguero] at Man City and has worked with Pep at Barcelona before, so they know each other. Some of the people on the board also know Messi.
"If Messi decides that he wants to leave Barcelona, that he wants to go and play in a different league, in a different country, of course Man City would be one of them."
Zabaleta claimed every player dreams of a stint in the Prem and suggested Messi would fit in well at City as there are some familiar faces at the Etihad for the 33-year-old.
He added: "Every player would like to have an experience in the Premier League.
“The Premier League is the best in the world and maybe he wants to go and enjoy a few years there.
"Man City would be the best place for him because he knows people there.
"I would like to see Messi, if he decides to move on to another club, in England as it is a lovely place to play football.
"Man City would be the best place for him because he knows people there. "
"He needs to enjoy football again because at the minute it seems like he is not enjoying it all.”
Messi has bagged five goals and two assists in 11 league games for a struggling Barcelona side that languish down in eighth and he is able to strike up talks with clubs as soon as January.
Barcelona presidential candidate Emili Rousaud claimed the club's skipper will leave if he does not agree to a pay cut – as the cash-strapped side can't afford to keep him.
And City will face competition from Paris Saint-Germain after the French giants reportedly warned their club stores to prepare to the Argentine's arrival.
The Ligue 1 champs are supposedly growing more confident of landing Messi and have advised their shops to prepare for an influx of shirt sales if the deal goes through.
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