Manchester City are reportedly keeping an eye on Lionel Messi's current situation at Barcelona after his public row with sporting director Eric Abidal.

Messi criticised Abidal after the Frenchman suggested that some members of first team squad were not working hard under former coach Ernesto Valverde.

Although the six-time Ballon d'Or winner is currently set to stay with the Catalan club until at least 2021, his contract contains a clause that allows him to leave for free at the end of the season.

And ESPN reports that City would be interested in bringing the 32-year-old to the Etihad Stadium if he chooses to leave either this summer or next.

Although it is understood that City consider it unlikely that the spat will lead to Messi's departure, it is claimed that the Premier League club believe they would be one of the leading candidates to seal the forward's signature if he decided to continue his career away from the Camp Nou.

Manchester City are reportedly monitoring Lionel Messi's situation at Barcelona

According to the publication, City are confident they would have a good chance of signing the Argentina international due to his relationship with manager Pep Guardiola, as well as executives Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano.

It is also claimed that the Premier League champions are one of the only teams in the world that would be able to afford his wages, which are understood to in excess of £50million a year.

Messi played under Guardiola during the Spaniard's successful spell in charge of Barca, which saw the club win three La Liga titles and two Champions League trophies.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu called an emergency meeting with Abidal on Wednesday to discuss his falling out with Messi.

Messi played under City boss Pep Guardiola during the Spaniard's time in charge at the Camp Nou

Although there were questions over whether the sporting director would keep his job, reports have indicated that the 40-year-old will remain in his role.

The row started after Abidal told Spanish newspaper Diario Sport: "A lot of players were not happy and did not work much and there was also a problem with internal communication,"

"The relationship between the coach and dressing room was always good, but there are things that as an ex-player I can sense. I told the club what I thought and we had to make a decision."

Messi responded to his former team-mate's claims in a social media post on Tuesday, sharing an image of the article and circling Abidal's quote.

Messi was involved in a public row with Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal this week

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"I honestly do not like to do this kind of thing but I think that everyone has to be responsible for their job and take responsibility for their decisions," he wrote.

"The players (are responsible) for what happens on the pitch and we are the first to admit when we haven't been good.

"The heads of the sports department have to take their responsibilities too and above all own the decisions they make.

"Finally I think that when you talk about players, you have to give names because if not, it makes everyone dirty and gives air to things that are said which are not true."