• Argentina's Dario Sarmiento is called the "Mini Messi"
  • Manchester City may pay $23 million for "Mini Messi"
  • Dario Sarmiento currently plays for Estudiantes

Manchester City are reportedly close to signing Argentina wonderkid Dario Sarmiento, who is called the "Mini Messi."

Pep Guardiola is planning to seal the deal for Sarmiento, who currently plays for Primera Division club Estudiantes, in March when the Argentinian turns 18, as reported by talkSport.

It is believed Manchester City have agreed to pay $23 million for Sarmiento, who has represented Argentina's Under-16 side for a total of six times and recently received his maiden call from the Under-20 national side.

Manchester City are also chasing to sign Lionel Messi, whose current deal with FC Barcelona is due to expire at the end of the 2020-21 campaign. A move to Etihad Stadium would unite Messi with his former Barcelona head coach Guardiola, and it is a well-known fact that the duo shares a great deal of respect for each other.

Lionel Messi scoring his record-breaking 644th goal for Barcelona
Lionel Messi scoring his record-breaking 644th goal for Barcelona AFP / Cesar Manso

In an interview with talkSport, South American soccer correspondent Tim Vickery revealed Manchester City are after Sarmiento because “there’s a mini Messi in him.”

"There’s a mini Messi in him. It’s a horrible thing to say about anyone, but there’s a mini Messi in him – that’s why City have been following him. They can’t bring him over until the next transfer window because he doesn’t turn 18 until March," Vickery revealed in the interview.

The 17-year-old Sarmiento has gained attention from around the world after being compared to his decorated compatriot, Messi. Among his many admirers is former Manchester United and Chelsea midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, who is the current chairman of the teenager’s current club Estudiantes.

Vickery, in the talkSport interview, also stated that Veron is keen on offloading Sarmiento because of his asking price.

"The club president there is Juan Sebastian Veron and he’s saying it’s almost a done deal. He’s already drooling over the amount of money they can get for him. This transfer is one they’re buying on a promise – he’s already got a handful of first-team games to his name," added Vickery.

When asked about watching Sarmiento’s game, Vickery said, "I remember seeing him for the first time not long before the first lockdown in February. He came off the bench and I saw this fella was only 16 and some of the things he was doing – a little bit like Zero Mostel in The Producers – I was going awooga, awooga, awooga. He’s got that tight little foot, tight dribbling skills, and got the vision to open up the game."

The South American journalist also mentioned if Manchester City manage to sign the teenage sensation, the Premier League side will loan him off in the beginning.

"So, there’s huge promise there, but this is one City will be investing in purely on a promise. And it’s almost certain if he does come across, which is in the next transfer window, they’ll loan him out somewhere first," added Vickery.