Pep Guardiola has denied trying to sign Barcelona star Lionel Messi for Manchester City this summer. The City manager was speaking ahead of his team’s upcoming UEFA Champions League clash with old club Barca at the Camp Nou.
He offered comments in response to local reports from the Catalan press suggesting he’d spoken to Messi about moving on from the Blaugrana, reports Guardiola denied, per Sid Lowe of the Guardian: “I did not call Messi because what I want is for him to play for Barcelona for many years. I hope he ends his career here.”
The story started earlier this week, when Roger Torello of Mundo Deportivo (h/t Lucas Sposito of Sport Witness) reported Guardiola tried to sign as many as five Barcelona stars, with Messi chief among them.
The story also cited unnamed reports from the British press identifying Messi’s fellow striker Luis Suarez as Guardiola’s main target. Rumours were indeed strong in the UK once it became clear Guardiola would succeed Manuel Pellegrini as City boss.
Back in February, Simon Mullock of the Sunday Mirror stated Suarez would be City’s top transfer target on Guardiola’s watch. Two months later, Neil Fissler of the Sunday Express detailed a plan involving Pep using his brother Pere Guardiola, who also represents Suarez, to help facilitate a deal.
Links to Messi were also strong, with the Sun’s Shaun Custis reporting City wanted to offer the Argentinian No. …