Manchester City are planning a January bid for Lionel Messi to steal a march on any competitors, according to reports.
Messi shocked the world this past summer when he announced he wanted to leave Barcelona after growing frustrated with the club's hierarchy and City were immediately made favourites to sign him.
However, after two weeks of exciting speculation, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner eventually relented and decided to stay at the Camp Nou, but it wasn't a happy decision and only made to avoid a court battle with the club over a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for free.
Messi has remained critical of the powers in charge at Barcelona since, especially for their handling of Luis Suarez' departure, and manager Ronald Koeman has admitted he still expects him to leave - with his contract finally expiring at the end of the current season. COO Omar Berrada recently told MEN Sport that City will have the finances to sign Messi if he was available.
And while City remain favourites to sign him in the summer, according to The Sun, the Blues will try and bring the Argentine to the Etihad before then when the transfer window reopens in January.
It's reported that City could tempt a cash strapped Barca into selling their record goalscorer with an offer as low as £15million in the new year, rather than losing him for nothing six-months later.
The Blues, the report states, know they will likely face massive competition for Messi and want to get ahead of the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Chelsea, Inter and MLS clubs in the race with an early bid.
The report adds that Messi's arrival could see Sergio Aguero leave the club and, though it seems unlikely as the pair are close friends, reports in Italy suggest Inter could make a move for the striker in January.
City's record scorer's current contract expires in the summer and he would be free to agree a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs from January.
According to SportItalia Mercato, the 32-year-old 'is a possibility' for Inter and they may look to negotiate a free transfer in the new year.