Lionel Messi would be 36 if he joined NYCFC in 2023. (Pro Shots/Sipa USA via USA TODAY)

By Michael Lewis Editor

Lionel Messi playing for New York City FC someday?

Don’t laugh.

It could happen although several things must fall into place.

Manchester City is putting together an offer to the Barcelona great. That would give Messi a long-term contract that would include the Argentine international moving to NYCFC after playing three years in the English Premier League.

ESPN, citing several sources, reported that Wednesday morning.

If that occurred, the 33-year-old Messi would be 36 when he would join NYCFC.

The City Football Group owns a majority of NYCFC.

Manchester City is considered favorites to sign Messi after the creative star told Barca Tuesday that he wanted to leave the La Liga team.

Of course, ManCity would have to put together a financial package that would be viable for the club and Messi.

According to the ESPN story, ManCity head coach Pep Guardiola, who guided the Argentine standout at Barca, talked to Messi last week to explain the club’s plans for him.

Leaving Barcelona could get, well, messy for Messi.

It depends if Messi can leave the club for free or if Manchester City will have to negotiate a fee with the Spanish team. Messi’s contract with Barca runs through the 2020-21 season and includes an astounding $827 million release clause.

On the flip side, Messi reportedly hopes that he could use a clause that would allow him to leave Barca without a penny being paid, ESPN said. That clause was included when Messi’s contract was renewed in 2017, but Barcelona claimed that the window to use that clause has closed.

Signing well-known players certainly isn’t foreign to NYCFC. In its MLS expansion season in 2015, it brought in David Villa, a vital member of Spain’s 2010 World Cup winners, Andrea Pirlo, a member of Italy’s 2006 World Cup championships and England international Frank Lampard.

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ODDS ARE: ManCity considered favorite to sign Messi, bookmaker says; Any MLS club at 33-1