Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has offered his thoughts on the club’s failed attempts to bring in Lionel Messi this summer after the wantaway Barcelona star was forced to remain in Spain.
In the summer’s biggest transfer saga, Messi attempted to force through a move from Barca after his disillusionment with the running of the club reached tipping point.
A reunion with Guardiola at the Etihad was seen as the 33-year-old star’s most likely landing point, although he was ultimately forced to remain at the Nou Camp for at least one more year after Barcelona bosses insisted any suitors would have to meet the €700 million release clause for the Argentine star.
Speaking ahead of his team’s first Premier League game of the season against Wolves on Monday, Guardiola said Messi had “already explained his feelings quite well.”
“I don’t think I have to explain anything. Leo explained it quite well I think and I don’t have anything to add.
“We don’t have anything more to add. He is a football player for FC Barcelona, the club I love,” said Guardiola.
Messi and Guardiola enjoyed spectacular success together when the Catalan was manager at Barcelona between 2008 and 2012, winning two Champions League titles among a host of other accolades.
When pressed on the possibility of returning to a swoop for Messi next year, Guardiola remained similarly cagey, saying: “I don’t know, it’s a question for Leo Messi. I cannot talk about the intentions for other people.”
Messi’s future had rested on a disputed contract clause which allows him to walk away from Barcelona for free at the end of each season.
Messi and his advisers insisted the clause was still in force due to the extended nature of the last campaign caused by the Covid-19 crisis, but Barcelona bosses stood firm in insisting that the clause had expired in June, with Messi ultimately deciding against a bitter legal battle with the club he has been at since the age of 13.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s plan to quit the club came after Barcelona relinquished the La Liga title to Real Madrid before suffering an 8-2 Champions League quarterfinal humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich.
Messi was also said to be dismayed at Barcelona’s decision to dispense with the services of close friend and strike partner Luis Suarez.
Messi geared up for the new season by starring in a 3-1 friendly win against second-division Girona this week, scoring twice and playing a sublime part in a goal from Philippe Coutinho.
Barca next face Elche in the final of the Joan Gamper Trophy on Saturday as they continue their preparations under new manager Ronald Koeman.
Meanwhile, beleaguered Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu faces a vote of no confidence after club members succeeded in gaining the required number of signatures to force a referendum on his tenure.