Wantaway Barcelona skipper Lionel Messi has once again ignited transfer speculation linking him to the blue half of Manchester after the Argentine ace said in a new interview that Pep Guardiola has “something special” about him.
Messi, 33, was the subject of intense transfer talk in August after he attempted to engineer a move from the Camp Nou, citing language in his contract that suggested he could leave the Catalan club for free at the end of each season.
Several of Europe’s largest cash-rich clubs soon circled, with Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City thought to be the most apt suitors.
Now speculation has again begun to ascend towards fever pitch following Messi’s effusive praise of his former boss Guardiola, who oversaw arguably the most effective period of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s career, between 2008 and 2012.
“He has something special about him. I don’t know,” Messi told Spanish television about Guardiola.
“He makes you see things in a certain way in terms of how he prepares for games, both defensively and going forward. He could tell you exactly how the match is going and how you have to attack to win.
The transfer pendulum continues to swing when it comes to Messi’s future. Unsurprisingly, figures within the corridors of power at the Camp Nou are determined to keep hold of their prize asset – with Messi’s name featuring heavily in the various campaigns of the figures attempting to win the club’s presidency next year.
Paris Saint-Germain, and Messi’s former strike partner Neymar, are also known to have explored a potential deal to reunite the pair in the French capital but Manchester City – who were understood to be clear frontrunners for Messi’s signature in August – have remained curiously tight-lipped.
City’s recent contract extension for Guardiola was thought in some circles to be an endorsement of the club’s pursuit of the world’s most individually decorated player.
Guardiola’s new two-year deal will see him tied to the club for at least seven years in total.
That development, coupled with the involvement of Director of Football Txiki Begiristain and CEO Ferran Soriano – both of whom are also Barcelona exiles – means that the City have significant ‘Barca DNA’ running through their veins.
Now it seems that they want to add Barcelona’s very heartbeat to their ranks – and judging by Messi’s candor, he certainly doesn’t seem to be against the idea.