Lionel Messi remains a “magician” and would be an “incredible” addition for Manchester City despite his advancing years, says Micah Richards.
The Blues are looking to position themselves at the front of a notable transfer queue.
With Messi informing Barca of his desire to move on in the current window, a scramble for his signature has been sparked.
Few clubs can offer the financial and sporting package required to land a six-time Ballon d’Or winner, but City form part of an elite group of clubs that are daring to dream.
The Premier League outfit have a number of factors working in their favour, including the presence at the Etihad Stadium of former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola and Argentina international frontman Sergio Aguero.
They are considered to be serious contenders to prise Messi from Camp Nou, with excitement building in English football amid a remarkable saga.
Richards is among those hoping to see an all-time great make his way to the Premier League.
The former City defender believes Messi would shine on such a stage despite having previously never plied his club football outside of La Liga and now being the wrong side of 30.
Richards told Sky Sports of a man who has maintained unworldly standards over the course of his career to date: “As a fan of football, to have Messi in the Premier League would be fantastic. I'd love to see him over here but Barcelona will not make it easy.
“He's 33 but I watched him against Napoli and thought, he's still got it, he's still a magician.
“When Sheikh Mansour took over, the signing of Robinho from Real Madrid was massive. He was the catalyst for the likes of [David] Silva, Aguero, [Vincent] Kompany.
“If Man City could pull it off, it would be incredible.”
Feelers are said to have been put out by City as they explore the option of adding Messi to their ranks.
He is, however, set to hold further talks with Barca regarding his future and may yet be talked into prolonging his association with the Catalan giants and committing to a new contract beyond the summer of 2021.