Pep Guardiola has reacted to Lionel Messi’s shock exit from Barcelona and says the forward is not in Manchester City’s ‘thoughts’ at present.
Barcelona stunned the footballing world after announcing that Messi will not continue with the club next season, the Spanish side unable to fulfil a contract agreement with the six-time Ballon d’Or winner amid their precarious financial situation.
Messi had agreed to a 50% pay-cut in order to remain at the Camp Nou, though the club’s greatest ever footballer will now seek a new challenge after it was confirmed no new deal could be completed.
Guardiola – who managed Messi during his time at Barcelona – has spoken out on the Argentine’s departure and admits he was left ‘surprised’ by the news of the star’s exit.
“It looked like it finished well in terms of him continuing with Barcelona. It was a surprise for everyone – me included,” he told a press conference.
“The president was clear today. I didn’t speak with the player or the president so I don’t know what has happened but as a supporter of the club I would love for him to have finished but today the club needs to be sustainable and what happened in the last year was really not good.
“As a fan, I have incredible gratitude for the most extraordinary player I have seen in my life, for the titles he helped to Barcelona, to help me personally to help me to go to Munich and then to England.
“More than that, the incredible amount of feelings and actions in front of the TV and watch what he can do with the ball, with his mates in one football game. Day by day, game by game, every three days he made something unique.
🗣"It is not in our thoughts."
Pep Guardiola answers whether Manchester City could sign Lionel Messi this summer pic.twitter.com/QGoXQAVltX
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) August 6, 2021
“All I can say is thank you so much to bring Barcelona to another level, to allow Barcelona to dominate the world for a decade, and I wish him the best for the last few years of his career. He will not be forgotten.
“Hopefully one day we can say the best ever because he deserves it. But if president Laporta arrives in this situation, he should do it unfortunately because someone before didn’t do well.”
Manchester City were strongly linked with a move to sign Messi during last summer’s window, though Guardiola has dismissed the suggestion that the Premier League champions could renew their interest.
City completed the £100m British transfer-record signing of Jack Grealish this week and the midfielder has been handed the number 10 shirt at the Etihad, with Guardiola insisting that a move for Messi is not currently in his thoughts.
“We spent £40m on Jack Grealish. We paid £100m and brought in £60m [through player sales]. He will wear the No.10 because we were convinced with Grealish and we were were convinced Leo would continue at Barcelona, so right now he is not in our thoughts.”