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United on "alert" over Messi's future! — reports

Should you be getting excited? Well ...

Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images

Manchester United! Lionel Messi! The Guardian! The first a football club with a lot of money, the second a footballer with a lot of talent, and the third a newspaper that, in theory, is a proper and reputable news source with a certain amount of credibility. So, when the third link the second to the first, there must be something going on, right?

Lionel Messi has alerted Manchester United to his potential availability by casting doubt over his future at Barcelona, with the Argentina forward admitting he does not know where he will be playing next year.

Right, but that won't just be those boilerplate comments he rolled out at the Ballon d'Or, right?

Messi was asked in Zurich before the Ballon d'Or ceremony [...] whether he would be interested in playing at another club ... "I am not sure where I will be next year. I have always said that I will end my career at Barcelona but as Cristiano said: 'Only God knows the future.' Things in football can change overnight."

Okay, okay, but presumably there's at least something at the United end. Not just two plus two equals "DEFCON 1 OHMIGOD WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!" ...

United are the only English club that could afford to buy Messi, particularly if Barcelona were to demand his €250m (£195m) buyout fee in one payment, which would be likely.

DEFCON 5, folks. DEFCON 5. Nuclear war is not, after all, imminent.