SPAIN, January 8 – Sources close to the Barcelona star insist the Blues have made it known they are willing to pay his £200m (Sh27.4b) buy-out clause.
But they also claim Chelsea are willing to meet his wage demands – which could double the total cost of the deal.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho described stories linking the Premier League leaders with Messi as “obviously not true” in November.
But Barcelona have been in meltdown since then and reports in Spain suggest the player is at war with boss Luis Enrique.
Messi failed to show up for training on Monday, and Enrique failed to deny talk of a rift between the pair yesterday.
He said: “I neither confirm nor deny those reports. The things that are part of the team always remain in the changing room.
“I have the same relationship with all my players that I had at the start of the season. That has not changed.”
Reports in Spain suggest there is a power struggle going on between Messi and the manager, with the player favourite to win.
But those close to Messi insist Chelsea are ready to take advantage if he does decide to quit the Nou Camp next summer.
Signing him would test Chelsea’s ability to stay within the limits of Financial Fair Play to the limit.
But Blues owner Roman Abramovich could find the chance to sign one of the best players in world football too good to pass up.
Manchester City and Paris St Germain are also monitoring the situation, but both have much less wriggle room having already broken FFP rules.
Messi started Sunday’s defeat to Real Sociedad on the bench, and is understood to be one of a number of senior players at odds with Enrique.
But if anyone leaves Barcelona next summer it is more likely to be the manager – especially after losing his closest ally at the club.
Sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta was sacked on Monday after Barca lost their appeal against a one-year transfer ban.
Hours later former captain Carles Puyol quit his role as Zubizarreta’s assistant, leaving the club in turmoil and Enrique isolated.