MANCHESTER – Pep Guardiola has ruled out a Manchester City move for Lionel Messi after Barcelona’s shock announcement that the Argentina superstar will leave the Camp Nou.
City boss Guardiola was Messi’s manager at Barcelona for four successful years and the Premier League champions were immediately linked with the forward following Thursday’s bombshell news.
But Guardiola had just wrapped up a British record £100 million ($139 million) swoop for Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish when Messi unexpectedly became a free agent.
And, speaking at a press conference on Friday, Guardiola insisted a reunion with Messi was not in his plans at present.
“Right now it is not in our thoughts (to sign Messi), absolutely not,” Guardiola said.
“We spent £40 million on Jack Grealish. £100 million we pay and £60 million we earned in the last year and he will bring the number 10 because we were convinced for Jack Grealish.
“It looked like it finished well in terms of (Messi) continuing with Barcelona. In the end it was a surprise for everyone, me included of course, but I think Laporta was clear today the reason why.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta said the club have been forced to end their long relationship with Messi because of “awful” financial problems inherited from the previous regime.
Messi, 34, was out of contract at the end of last season but appeared set to sign a new deal before the sudden announcement of his exit.
As well as City, Paris Saint Germain have also been suggested as suitors for Messi, who won four Champions League and 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona.
Having seen the impact made by Messi at Barcelona up close, Guardiola paid tribute to the star’s remarkable contribution to the club.
“Unfortunately, because as a supporter for my club, I would love him to finish but today the club’s sustainability is so important and what happened in the last year was really not good,” Guardiola said.
“That is why he arrives in this. I have incredible gratitude as a fan for the most extraordinary player I see in my life. Much more than the titles he helped to win Barcelona, how he helped me to be a better manager and to go to Munich and after to England.
“The incredible emotion and actions to be in front of the team and to watch him what he can do with the ball, with his mates in one football game, day by day, game by game, he would make something unique.
“Only I can say thank you so much to bring Barcelona to another level, to bring Barcelona to dominate the world during a decade with him and his mates. I of course wish him for the last years of his career the best and will not be forgotten, that’s for sure.
“Hopefully one day we can properly say the best farewell game ever. He deserves it for his contribution to this club for another level but if Laporta arrives in this situation it is unfortunately because someone before didn’t do well.”