Messi, 33, sent shockwaves around the footballing world by handing in a transfer request at Barcelona last week in the wake of the side’s disappointing 2019/20 campaign which ended with a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich, who would go on to win the Champions League.
Premier League giants City have been keeping close tabs on the situation and Messi would be open to reuniting with former boss Pep Guardiola, who managed him for four years at the Nou Camp.
However, La Liga have dismissed suggestions Messi could leave Barca for free and confirmed that any club wishing to sign the Argentine will have to meet his eye-watering €700million (£632m) release clause.
Recent reports claimed Messi’s camp had approached Red Devils to discuss a potential move and Neville feels Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is crying out for attacking reinforcements this summer.
But the former United right-back admits a switch to Old Trafford would be extremely unlikely for Messi.
‘United need a new centre forward. I would love Lionel Messi to come, but I think he is more likely to go to Manchester City,’ the former United and England right-back told Stadium Astro.
‘[If he does come to the Premier League] it will be the biggest story in Premier League history, and I cannot overstate it.
‘The idea of Messi being in Manchester will be huge for the country and the league.
‘It will bring in the most media attention and scrutiny to the league.
‘It will be simply fascinating as people will be interested to see how he will play in a different league and environment.’
Jadon Sancho was identified as United’s top attacking target at the start of the summer but Borussia Dortmund appeared to rule out a move for the 20-year-old last month.
But Neville appears hopeful that the England winger could still end up at his former club.
‘We have just got the centre midfield sorted [with the signing of Donny van de Beek from Ajax],’ he added.
‘We have been linked with Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund all summer, so it will be great if we can get him because a right winger is a position we’re lacking in.
‘Another position we’re struggling is at the centre-back to partner Harry Maguire.
‘We have been linked with several defenders but there is nothing concrete so far.’