Pep Guardiola has urged Lionel Messi to stay at Barcelona amid speculation he could leave the Nou Camp and reunite with his old boss at Manchester City.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner become embroiled in a public row with Barca sporting director Eric Abidal this week after he accused the players of not working hard enough under former manager Ernesto Valverde.
Messi responded by telling Abidal to “take responsibility” for Valverde’s dismissal and urged him to name the players he was accusing of downing tools.
The 32-year-old’s disgruntlement, along with a clause in his contract that allows him to leave Barcelona for free at the end of the season, has led to reports he could be set to move to City.
They already employ Guardiola – with whom Messi won three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues – as well as a number of former Barca staff in senior positions.
But Guardiola says he is against any potential move, saying:
“He’s a player from Barcelona. He will stay there. That is my wish: stay in Barcelona.
“I think he’s going to finish his career there.”
“Unbelievable player – we’d certainly be interested if he’s available!” said Bournemouth’s Eddie Howe.
“On a serious note, I’ve always said I want to see the best managers and players in the Premier League but I know his history with Barcelona and what he’s achieved in his career is incredible and Barcelona is a huge, huge football club.”
“It would take a big number to make that happen; I’m not sure I’ve got the courage to knock on the owner’s door to try and push that one through!” joked Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder. “I love my city but it’s a bit cold out there today!”