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Lionel Messi has been urged to join Aston Villa by his international team-mate Emiliano Martinez as he prepares to leave Paris Saint-Germain this summer. The World Cup winner is expected to end his two-year spell in France when his contract expires in June and Martinez hopes Messi will make a sensational move to Villa Park to become his club team-mate – with the goalkeeper joking he would take a wage cut to make it happen.
Messi is unlikely to continue his stay in the French capital after PSG fans recently protested against his recent performances, along with Neymar and Marco Verratti. He was also whistled inside the Parc des Princes after being fined and suspended by the Parisian club for an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia.
The 35-year-old will have the luxury of being able to choose his next club this summer as teams from Europe, Asia and North America all scramble for his signature. His former club Barcelona have publicly declared their desire to bring their club icon back to the Camp Nou, but their financial issues could prevent that from happening.
Martinez, who was part of the same Argentina squad led by Messi that won the World Cup last year, has attempted to entice his close friend to join him in the Midlands this summer.
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“If they are whistling Messi, I would bring him here… at Villa,” Martinez told ESPN Argentina. “Hey, man, we’ll drink mate, we eat asados [Argentinian barbecue food] every week. I will cut my salary, we’ll do our best [to sign him].”
Despite the obvious attraction of signing Messi, there is no indication that Villa would even entertain making such an audacious move, given that the veteran playmaker’s demands would stretch far beyond the club’s wage structure.
Al-Hilal are said to have offered to pay Messi an eye-watering £434m salary on a one-year deal if he decides to reunite with his old Ballon d’Or rival Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia, with reports even suggesting a deal had been agreed during Messi’s trip to the Arabian Gulf.
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However, his father Jorge moved to deny those claims and insisted that any decision regarding the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will be made after the season has finished, with PSG on course to win the Ligue 1 title.
Even if Martinez’s comments have got Villa fans dreaming of seeing one of football’s greatest-ever players playing in their claret and blue colours, a return to Barcelona would be more likely.
The club’s vice president Rafa Yuste has claimed that the ball is in Messi’s court, although the Catalan giants need to raise around £217m in sales and wage cuts just to meet La Liga’s salary restrictions: “It’s up in the air,” Yuste said when asked if a deal was close. “It depends on many things.”
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