FORMER Manchester United flop Juan Sebastien Veron has assisted rivals City by helping them sign Argentina's latest prodigy, according to reports.

Wonderkid Dario Sarmiento, labelled as the next 'mini Lionel Messi', is on his way to Etihad when he turns 18 in March.

Sarmiento, 17, currently plays for Estudiantes where former midfielder Veron is the chairman.

City are prepared to pay in the region of £17m for Sarmiento following his burst onto the scene in 2019.

South American football expert Tim Vickery told talkSPORT how the deal 'is almost done.'

He said: "It’s a horrible thing to say about anyone, but there’s a mini Messi in him – that’s why City have been following him.

“They can’t bring him over until the next transfer window because he doesn’t turn 18 until March.

“The club president there is Juan Sebastian Veron and he’s saying it’s almost a done deal. He’s already drooling over the amount of money they can get for him.

“This transfer is one they’re buying on promise – he’s already got a handful of first-team games to his name.”

After watching his sky-high potential in action, Vickery added: "He came off the bench and I saw this fella was only 16 and some of the things he was doing – a little bit like Zero Mostel in The Producers – I was going awooga, awooga, awooga.

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“He’s got that tight little foot, tight dribbling skills and got the vision to open up the game. So there’s huge promise there, but this is one City will be investing in purely on promise.

“And it’s almost certain if he does come across, which is in the next transfer window, they’ll loan him out somewhere first.”

And Sarmiento could sensationally link up with Messi by next season.

SunSport revealed how Man City are ready to step up their chase for the unsettled Barcelona superstar with his contract expiring in the summer.

His sensational exit from the Nou Camp appears more likely than ever following comments by presidential candidate Agusti Benedito.

He told ESPN: "Keeping Messi would be the best news for the club but I am not very optimistic.

"I would have liked him to say in his interview the other week that his desire is to stay at the club, but he didn't and now we have to wait and see. The truth is I am pessimistic.

"The most likely outcome I see is that he leaves us in the summer."

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