Manchester City have denied making an audacious €150m bid to sign 21-year-old Barcelona and Argentina playmaker Lionel Messi.
Reports in Spain on Wednesday claimed that the Premier League club's bid, which would smash the current world transfer record of €66m set in 2001 when Real Madrid signed Zinedine Zidane from Juventus, included personal terms that would see Messi paid €10m a year.
However, in line with comments from Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak who on Tuesday insisted the club would not overreach in the transfer market this summer, City issued a statement denying that an approach for Messi had been made.
''Manchester City Football Club note with interest the reports circulating in the Spanish media that the club has made an offer to the Barcelona player Lionel Messi and that he has turned down the chance to join the club,'' the statement said.
''While acknowledging that Lionel Messi is a world-class player of the highest calibre, Manchester City would like to make it clear that the club has at no time made an approach to Mr Messi or his representatives.''
Earlier this month, City manager Mark Hughes hit out at the number of reports linking the club with players around the world - a consequence of the Abu Dhabi United Group's takeover last summer which installed City as the richest club in the world.
Since City tried and failed to sign Brazilian midfielder Kaka from AC Milan in a £100m deal in January, the club have been cautious not to be linked with outlandish transfer deals and now prefer to take a more conservative approach favoured by Huhges.
However, despite the manager's wish to build a team around a solid core of players rather than one or two marquee names, the Abu Dhabi United Group are keen to dramatically improve the club's standing in the world game and aim to achieve this by signing high profile players.
Along with Kaka and Messi, Manchester City have been linked by some newspapers with big money moves for players such as Carlos Tevez and Fernando Torres.