ROMAN Abramovich will have to move a mountain of cash if he wants to bring Lionel Messi to Stamford Bridge with estimates topping out at well over €600m.
Continuing and rising speculation about Messi's relationship with Barcelona and club manager Luis Enrique has linked the world's top player with a move to the Premier League.
Both Manchester City and Chelsea have been touted as serious bidders but the numbers involved mean that Messi is now the player Barcelona cannot sell.
His release clause amounts to €250m plus taxes and once a salary package is factored in, the final amount needed to buy Messi would be well north of a half billion euro.
How such a deal could be done against a background of the Uefa Financial Fair play regulations is anyone's guess.
Both City and Chelsea have fallen foul of the new rules and in the last few days, negotiations over the Wilfried Bony deal were complicated by a wage freeze at the Etihad.
City's arrangement with Frank Lampard has also been subjected to close scrutiny and Premier League officials have moved to clarify that he never signed forms with New York City FC and was working off a short term contract at the Etihad until it was extended last week.
Lampard's decision to sign on until the end of the season caused uproar among NY City fans who believed they were being short-changed.
A Premier League statement read: "Frank Lampard is registered with Manchester City FC until the end of the 2014-15 season.
"The Premier League has sought and received assurances from Manchester City that there is no agreement in place between the club or City Football Group with New York City FC relating to the player."