Manchester City have ruled out letting first-team regulars Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus leave in any exchange deal for Lionel Messi or anyone else this summer.
City remain tight-lipped on stories about their interest in Messi, who has told Barcelona he wants to leave.
Although it is thought the six-time world player of the year has spoken to City boss Pep Guardiola about moving to the Premier League, the Blues are wary of any public comment given the complexities around a deal that would be regarded as one of the biggest in the history of world football.
However, the club are also mindful of the spin-off from speculation around 33-year-old Messi, and have sought to quell talk of a mass exodus as part of any deal.
While two of the players mentioned as possible makeweights in a deal – Eric Garcia and Angelino – may yet end up at Barcelona before the transfer window closes on 5 October, City sources are anxious to end speculation that Bernardo, Mahrez and Jesus may leave as well.
All three remain an integral part of Guardiola’s squad and are expected to remain so next season, when City will be looking to reclaim their Premier League title, which was lost to Liverpool after two record-breaking successes.
Spanish pair Garcia and Angelino are regarded as different cases.
Garcia only has one-year left on his contract and the 19-year-old defender has refused to sign an extension amid speculation about a return to Barca, while the Catalans have already inquired about 23-year-old full-back Angelino, who impressed during his loan spell at Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig last term.