• Barcelona is expecting Lionel Messi to join Manchester City this summer, a report says
  • Barca's senior executives are now considering Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez as a possible replacement
  • Messi has informed Barca he will not join the team's coronavirus testing and training sessions

Barcelona senior executives have already accepted that Lionel Messi will likely join Manchester City this summer and are now considering Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez as a possible replacement, a report revealed.

After decades of representing Barcelona, Messi will soon be parting ways with the Catalans. Following his decision to leave Barca, Premier League club Manchester City emerged as the favorite to sign the 33-year-old for a deal that would see Messi reuniting with his former coach, Pep Guardiola.

Barcelona is said to be doing its best to prevent Messi from exiting Camp Nou. However, with the growing interest from both Man City and Messi to secure a deal, senior figures at Barca are now planning for a future without the club’s longtime captain, The Telegraph reported.

Barcelona is expecting Messi to join City this summer and has now shortlisted potential replacements, including Inter’s Martinez.

The Argentine striker was a target of Barcelona in the past season, with the Catalans previously hoping to pair Martinez with Messi for the next season. But now that the six-time Ballon d ’ Or winner is set to leave the club, the Inter star is being considered to fill his shoes.

Talks of Messi reuniting with Guardiola recently intensified after Spanish TV sports journalist Cristobal Soria revealed what he claimed to have learned about a phone conversation between the player and his old boss.

According to Soria, Messi’s first choice when he decided to leave Barcelona was Man City. The Argentine allegedly said that he wants to win two more Ballon d’Or awards and the only way to do it is to join Guardiola.

“The call happened, and Messi said to Pep: 'I want to win the next two Ballon d'Or awards, and I can only do that with you.' This is the killer phrase that Messi used,” Soria said on Spanish TV program “El Chiringuito de Jugones.”

Amid his Barcelona exit saga, Messi has told Barca that he will not attend the team’s coronavirus testing on Sunday and the preseason training on Monday, ESPN reported.

The Argentine has been “assessing the situation with his advisors” and decided to formally inform the club on Saturday afternoon that he would not undergo coronavirus testing alongside his teammates. Messi's refusal to show up for the testing and training sessions raises the assumption of an ongoing stand-off between him and Barcelona.

Lionel Messi endured one of the worst nights of his Barcelona career
Lionel Messi endured one of the worst nights of his Barcelona career POOL / Rafael Marchante