Pep Guardiola wants Lionel Messi to finish career at Barcelona

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Pep Guardiola distanced himself on Friday from suggestions that his decision to extend his contract at Manchester City was linked to the possibility of Lionel Messi moving to the club next year.

City was linked with the 33-year-old Messi after he put in a transfer request at Barcelona during the offseason. The Argentina forward ultimately chose to stay at Barcelona, somewhat against his own wishes, but his contract expires at the end of the season.

Guardiola signed a new two-year deal with City this week that ties him to the club until 2023. He was asked Friday whether the possibility of working with the six-time world player of the year again was motivation for his decision.

“Leo Messi is a player from Barcelona. And you ask me my opinion, as a person who has huge gratitude for what Barcelona has done for me in the academy as a football player and, after, a manager who gave me absolutely everything, what I want is he finishes his career there,” Guardiola said.

“That is what I want. I would wish — as I’ve said I don’t know how many times, maybe a thousand times — I would like as a Barcelona fan for Leo to finish there.”

It is not the first time Guardiola has downplayed a talk of a reunion with his former player at City. This time, though, he left the door ajar.

“But he finishes the year of his contract,” he added. “I don’t know what is going to happen in his mind.

“Right now, he is a Barcelona player. The transfer market will be in June, July. We have incredible targets we want to achieve and this is all we have in our minds. The rest I cannot say anything else.”

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Lionel Messi: Man City boss Pep Guardiola wants forward to end career at Barcelona

I hope Messi stays at Barcelona – Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he wants Lionel Messi to finish his career at Barcelona.

Guardiola signed a two-year contract extension with City on Thursday and was immediately linked with his ex-player, who came close to moving last summer.

Messi’s contract ends next summer and he could sign pre-contract terms with any club outside Spain from 1 January.

Guardiola said: “Messi is a Barcelona player. I said it a thousand times. As a fan, I want Leo to finish there.”

Argentine playmaker Messi had looked set to join City after putting in a transfer request in August, only for Barcelona’s then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu to block the transfer.

Bartomeu then resigned in October but Messi’s future remains uncertain.

“His contract finishes this year [season] and I don’t know what will happen in his mind,” Guardiola said.

Paris St-Germain have also been linked with the 33-year-old, but every candidate in the Barcelona presidential election – to be held in January – has said it is a priority for them to persuade Messi to stay.

“I have huge gratitude for Barcelona and what they have done for me,” said Guardiola, who worked with Messi when managing the club between 2008 and 2012.

“In the academy, as a player and a manager, they gave me absolutely everything. Right now Messi is a Barcelona player and the transfer market is in June and July.

“We have incredible games and targets and things we would like to achieve. That is the only thing in our mind. The rest, I cannot say anything.”

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‘I would have taken a break’

Guardiola’s new deal will take him to 2023 and will see him complete seven seasons at the club, as long as he spent in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich combined.

Despite the obvious interest in him, the 49-year-old says he had no interest in moving anywhere else and would have stepped away from the game again, as he did when he left Barcelona in 2012, had an agreement with City not been reached.

“I didn’t think about anywhere else, just to stay here,” he said.

“The decision was not just mine, it was the club’s as well. If we had felt it was enough, I would have taken a break.

“But we have the feeling we still have many things to do together. We want to continue what we have done in the previous seasons.”

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Manchester City boss Guardiola hopes Messi ends career at Barcelona

(Reuters) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he is unsure what the future holds for Lionel Messi but hopes as a Barcelona fan that the Argentine forward will remain at the La Liga club until the end of his career.



Pep Guardiola wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a crowd: FILE PHOTO: Manchester City v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Group Stage - Group C


© Reuters/Jason Cairnduff
FILE PHOTO: Manchester City v FC Barcelona – UEFA Champions League Group Stage – Group C

Guardiola, who has guided City to two Premier League titles, three League Cups and the FA Cup following his arrival in 2016, signed a new two-year deal on Thursday that will keep him in charge until the end of the 2022-23 season.

The former Barca manager’s extension at City has opened up the possibility of a reunion with Messi in England, with the player in the last year of his current contract in Spain having unsuccessfully tried to leave the club in the close season.

“Messi’s a player for Barcelona. If you ask me my opinion I have huge gratitude for what Barcelona have done for me. I want him to finish his career there,” Guardiola told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to Tottenham Hotspur.

“I’d love, wish, I’ve said a thousand times. I’d like as a Barcelona fan for him to finish his career there. I don’t know what is in his mind, for now he’s a Barcelona player. The transfer market is in June. This is only half in our minds.”

Guardiola’s immediate attention will be on second-placed Spurs, who could top the table with victory. City will be without versatile midfielder Fernandinho due to illness.

“… A lot of players are back except Nathan (Ake), Fernandinho. We have a lot of games so it will be important to have everyone fit,” Guardiola added.

“Sergio (Aguero) is training this week and Raheem (Sterling) today was the first training with the team.”

Sterling sustained a calf injury while training with England ahead of their game against Belgium, while Ake had to be taken off early in the Netherlands’ game against Spain on Nov. 11 with a muscle injury.

(This story refiles to change date of Netherlands game to Nov. 11 in final paragraph)

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)

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