Lionel Messi ‘seriously considered’ leaving Barcelona for Manchester City during the 2017 Catalonia political crisis, according to a big story broken by Spanish source El Mundo today.
It isn’t the first time the press have said Messi flirted with the idea of moving to the Etihad Stadium, but with clause in his latest deal that could see him quit Camp Nou if Catalonia secedes from Spain, it isn’t beyond reason that he’s thought of leaving.
So naturally the question came up during Pep Guardiola’s pre-Southampton press conference, and he wasted no time in shooting down the rumours.
“When I left Barcelona and went to Bayern Munich and Manchester City, I never asked Messi to [move with me],” Guardiola told the press. “I never went to either club and said ‘I want this player’.
“I know how important he is for Barcelona. I never made the first step to say I want this player. Never.
“I said a thousand times I want him to stay at Barcelona. I want that.”
So it seems talk of Ferran Soriano negotiating over the span of almost a year with Messi’s father may be untrue – or at least news to Pep Guardiola.