BARCELONA

Messi gets cheeky Newell's offer as Barcelona contract runs out

Lionel Messi is expected to commit to Barcelona in the coming days, but that did not stop his boyhood club stepping in with an audacious proposal.

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Messi gets cheeky Newell's offer as Barcelona deal expires

Lionel Messi received a cheeky approach from Newell's Old Boys as the superstar's boyhood club suggested he join them after his Barcelona contract expired.

Messi became a free agent when his Camp Nou deal ran out at midnight on Wednesday, and it was shortly after the click struck 12 in Argentina when Newell's made their play for the 34-year-old forward.

"Hi Leo, are you there? In Argentina it is just now July 1 ... [Nothing ventured nothing gained]" Newell's tweeted.

Messi and Newell's

They issued that thinly-veiled invitation for Messi to join them at 24 minutes past midnight in Argentina, including a photograph of Messi in a Newell's shirt. It was a picture taken when Messi paid an emotional tribute to Diego Maradona, who briefly played for the Argentine club in the 1993-94 season.

Messi idolised Maradona and he wore the 1993-94 Newell's top, bearing his hero's number 10, underneath his Barcelona kit for a game against Osasuna in the wake of Maradona's death last November. It was revealed when Messi scored a stunning goal in a 4-0 victory.

Messi spent time in the Newell's youth system before moving to Barcelona in 2001, yet the prospect of an imminent return to club football in Argentina looks slim for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner. A new deal at Barcelona has been long in the works and, barring any late hitches, is expected to see Messi commit to the club where he has played all his senior club football.

Reports in Spain have pointed to various hurdles that Barcelona must overcome before announcing any new deal for their captain and all-time record scorer, with staying within the club's spending limits being of paramount importance. It seems more than likely, though, that Messi, who was wanted by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain when he attempted to leave Barcelona last year, has been persuaded his future should remain in Spain.