Inter Milan CEO Giuseppe Marotta has described signing Lionel Messi as “a desire everyone has” amid reports linking the Barcelona superstar to the Serie A club.
However, the Inter chief downplayed the speculation, insisting that “no Italian team is capable of carrying out such an operation”.
Messi has entered the final year of his contract with Barcelona, and appears to have become increasingly unhappy recently at the club where he has spent his entire career.
The Catalan giants are in a state of turmoil having lost the La Liga title, and six-time Ballon D’Or winner Messi has been particularly outspoken on several occasions.
It has led to suggestions the 33-year-old will look to take on a new challenge having spent his entire career at Barcelona.
His father and agent, Jorge, has also moved his business interests to Milan, further fuelling speculation.
And the transfer talk ramped up on Tuesday when a picture of Messi’s image being projected onto Milan’s duomo cathedral went viral on social media.
But Marotta appeared to laugh off speculation that the Argentina star could join Inter.
“Messi on the cathedral? It wasn’t my idea,” the Inter chief told NobleSports.
“It reminds me of football from the past with such situations. We are talking about an icon, a great player, a desire that everyone has.”
Marotta said it would be “extraordinary to see such a champion at Inter”, adding: “It’s fantasy football, a utopian situation.
He admitted that signing Messi would be a huge boost to the club, but insisted that financial fair play rules would make such a move extremely unlikely.
“Our football [in Italy] needs a lift,” said Marotta. “Champions raise the value of the Italian brand and football. If we could consider ours to be a championship in which the great champions come and stay, it would be better.
“No Italian team is capable of carrying out such an operation unless extraordinary factors arise related to the shareholders, and therefore the actual owners.
“Let’s not forget that we must respect FFP [Financial Fair Play]. This year, Covid-19 has ensured that there is some flexibility, but afterwards the rules will have to be respected.”