Messi is set to leave Barcelona this summer after growing frustrated with the direction the club his heading in and a humiliating 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League only confirmed his concerns.
A frank meeting with new boss Ronald Koeman did little to help the situation and he is attempting to engineer a move away from the Camp Nou.
His representatives approached United – one of the richest clubs in the world – about a mega-money deal.
However, they are not keen on such a huge outlay, according to The Guardian.
Messi is pushing for a free transfer but his extortionate wages and agent fees would still limit the clubs who could afford him to a handful.
Manchester City are certainly in that bracket and are confident they can reunite Messi and Pep Guardiola.
Former United defender Rio Ferdinand claimed that Chelsea are also in the race.
Barcelona’s new technical director Ramon Planes, however, is hopeful the Argentina international will be staying put.
‘It was very important news, we have always said that we want to build the new Barcelona around Messi, the best player in history,’ said Planes, who replaced Eric Abidal as technical director last week.
‘Messi has not told us that he’s not going to show up for training.
‘We do not contemplate any contractual exit, because we want Messi to stay.
‘Internally we have been working for long hours to find the best solution for the club and for Leo.
‘Anyone that understands a little bit about football wants to have Leo in their team. It is an immense pleasure to see a player like him. He is a winner, Barcelona are winners and we want to get back to winning.’