Guardiola speaks for first time on reports Man City could swoop for Messi amid Barca unrest
Speculation that Messi could quit Barcelona this summer was reignited this week after the Argentine icon was involved in a public spat with sporting director Eric Abidal.
Abidal had accused certain members of the team of lacking effort under former coach Ernesto Valverde – prompting Messi to demand that the Frenchman name names or risk tarnishing the reputation of the entire squad.Also on rt.com ‘We shouldn’t throw sh*t at ourselves’: Alba wades into Messi-Abidal row as ructions threaten to derail Barcelona’s season
The unsavory saga has put a number of footballing giants on red alert across Europe as they eye a potential chance to land the 32-year-old legend this summer.
Among those are Premier League champions Man City, who are said to be closely following developments at the Nou Camp.
But City manager Guardiola – who won the Champions League twice with Messi while manager of Barca between 2008 and 2012 – has played down talk that the Argentine could head to England.
“Messi is a player for Barcelona, he will stay there. That is my wish,” Guardiola told a press conference ahead of his team’s Premier League game with West Ham on Sunday.
“I am not going to talk about players at another club. I think he will finish his career there [at Barcelona].”
Messi joined Barcelona at the age of 12 and has gone on to become the club’s all-time topscorer.
However, he issued a rare public statement of anger over comments by his former teammate Abidal this week, signaling that all might not be well at the club.
Barca fell to a 1-0 defeat in the Copa del Rey quarter-final on Thursday night, as the team still appears to be adapting to life under new manager Quique Setien, who replaced Valverde in January.
Messi reportedly has a break clause in his contract with Barca at the end of each season, meaning he could quit the club should he wish to do so.
A host of European giants would be in the running to secure his signing, with fans salivating at the prospect of him potentially lining up alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus.
Man City would seem the favorites, however, given Messi’s history of success with Guardiola, and the fact the club would have the financial clout to meet his salary expectations.