The Citizens were strongly linked with the Argentina international in the summer after he informed Barca, the club he has represented since the age of 13, of his desire to move on.
Messi remained in Catalonia after Barcelona contested the validity of a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave for free at the end of the elongated 2019-20 campaign.
However, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner will be out of contract in eight months’ time as things stand, having yet to agree fresh terms with the La Liga giants.
According to The Telegraph, City have been monitoring the situation and are ready to make their first move in January when Messi is freely allowed to talk to other clubs.
The report indicates that Pep Guardiola’s men will attempt to get the Argentina international to pen a pre-contract agreement ahead of making a high-profile switch next summer.