Man City preparing £357m raid for Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in January

Lionel Messi

GETTY Lionel Messi wants Barcelona to join the Premier League

In addition to making the Etihad Stadium look appealing to Pep Guardiola, employing Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, two former Barcelona executives, was also meant to attract Messi.

Argentine coaches working in South America have done their national team a few bad turns over the past two years and Jorge Celico could deny the twice champions and 2014 runners-up a place at the World Cup in Russian Federation next year.

Barcelona are still telling sources close to the club that the contract extension is just a formality, but it is claimed that there are still a lot of loose ends to be tied up before Messi commits his long term future to the Blaugrana. Several senior players were prepared to quit Argentina team and announce their global retirement after the Copa exit in 2016 as well.

Runners-up to Germany in 2014, Argentina may become the first country not to qualify for the World Cup after reaching the finals of the previous competition since Czechoslovakia missed out in 1966.

Argentina are in a precarious position heading into their final qualifying match against Ecuador in Quito on Tuesday, having drawn their last three games and scored only one goal in the process. A defeat would see them crash out of the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

"A World Cup without Argentina and without Messi would be a catastrophe", he said on Super Deportivo Radio de Santa Fe. He also put forward the notion that coach Jorge Sampaoli now has to do his part and take responsibility.

"There are 90 minutes for Sampaoli to show that he's the real saviour because everyone said he was the saviour for Argentina".

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