Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea are on red alert over the potential availability of Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.

Reports in Spain claim the four-time Balon d’Or winner will consider his options because of ongoing disputes with the club over his alleged tax avoidance.

The Guardian says Barca could demand his £195million buyout clause is paid in one payment.

City are also reported to have explored the possibility of a bid but would struggle to generate enough cash to fund a move, says the Daily Express.

United are under no such restrictions and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has said the club would not baulk at breaking the world record transfer fee.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has made enquiries after Messi this year, with good friend Cesc Fabregas now at Cobham.

The Argentine signed a new five-year contract last May worth around £16.3m a season.

That means the total cost of any deal could reach as much as £275m.

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