Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi to be sanctioned by PSG AFP / FRANCK FIFE

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) have reportedly identified a replacement for Lionel Messi ahead of the 2023-24 season.

Messi's deal with PSG is due to expire at the end of the season. The Ligue 1 side is no longer prioritising his contract renewal and are now looking to build their squad without the World Cup-winning captain.

PSG make Silva their top target

PSG have made Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva their top target and a crucial piece of their rebuilding program this summer, reported French outlet Le Parisien. Silva has been waiting to leave Man City in pursuit of a new experience but nothing has come to fruition as yet.

This is not the first time Silva is being linked with PSG. Last summer, the attacking midfielder supposedly had an agreement with PSG. There were also rumours of his possible arrival at Parc des Princes following his time with their Ligue 1 rivals, Monaco. But a deal never materialsed due to PSG's financial complications.

Neymar to Man City?

Now, it is being reported that PSG are planning to secure Silva from City in a direct swap deal that'll see Neymar move to the Etihad club and the deal would involve no money, reported Spanish outlet SPORT. However, City do not need Neymar and would certainly not pay a £26 million salary to the Brazilian forward. Even if Neymar agreed to a massive pay cut, his move to Manchester looks unlikely.

Neymar being injury prone will further dampen this theory. The 31-year-old playmaker, who has been at PSG since 2017, is currently out of action after undergoing surgery on his ankle.

It is understood that PSG have also offered Neymar to Chelsea and Real Madrid, but the former Barcelona star is not willing to relocate to Spain unless he is rejoining the Camp Nou side.

Barcelona's summer plans still hampered by financial issues

Last summer, 28-year-old Silva was on Barcelona' target list throughout the transfer window, with head coach Xavi Hernandez confirming they wanted the deal, which never progressed due to their financial crisis.

Silva may not head to Barcelona at the end of the 2022-23 season, but Messi might. The Catalan club is aiming to reunite with their all-time top scorer on a free transfer and the player is also believed to want the move. But with Barcelona's financial situation still poor, any move would not be easy.

For Barcelona to sign any big player, they have to offload some. It is understood that the Camp Nou side needs to reduce their salary outgoings of £521 million to £347 million in order to register new players and any new contracts. Gavi, who has been a regular member of Xavi's side since the last campaign, is still not registered as a first-team member. The sensational central midfielder remains to be a youth player.

Man City midfielder Silva, whose contract with Pep Guardiola's side is until 2025, recently admitted that if he received an exciting new challenge, he would accept it. At this point, if PSG are indeed interested, Barcelona won't stand a chance in making a better offer.

"I'm 28 years old, I'll be 29 in the summer, and I have two more years on my Manchester City contract. My contract would end at 31. I won't hide that my goal in the coming years, if something good happens elsewhere, will probably be to move to a new project. Going into a new project at the age of 29, I'll only finish this contract probably at 34. If you ask me: what did you think 10 years ago?" said Silva.

Silva, an academy product of Benfica, has been at Man City since 2017. Into his sixth season at Manchester City, Silva has been a reliable member, having helped the side win four Premier League titles. The defending champions are now a win away from clinching the 2022-23 Premier League, which would be their sixth title in 10 seasons.