Lionel Messi urged to stay at Barcelona by Pep Guardiola



Pep Guardiola has urged Lionel Messi to finish his career at Barcelona amid speculation he could leave the Nou Camp for Manchester City

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.

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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.”

‘We’d be interested in Messi!’

4:33 Football finance expert Kieran Maguire discusses whether Premier League suitors would be able to afford a move for Barcelona’s Lionel Messi

While Guardiola urged Messi to stay put, several Premier League bosses cheekily registered their interest, were the Argentina international to fancy a move to England.

“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.”

1:20 Managers have their say on the prospect of Lionel Messi leaving Barcelona and joining a Premier League 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!”

Everton’s Carlo Ancelotti said: “It would be fantastic for the Premier League but I don’t think it is possible.

“Messi is a Barcelona legend and I’m sure he is going to finish his career at Barcelona.”

‘Sterling could be out for weeks’

0:55 Pep Guardiola says Raheem Sterling could face weeks on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury – making him a doubt for the Champions League clash with Real Madrid

Following questions about Messi, Guardiola gave a fitness update ahead of the Super Sunday clash with West Ham and revealed Raheem Sterling faces weeks on the sidelines after suffering a hamstring injury in City’s 2-0 defeat at Tottenham last Sunday.

The issue makes the England international, who has 20 goals for City this season, a doubt for their Champions League last 16 first leg against Real Madrid on February 26.

2:59 FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Tottenham’s win over Manchester City in the Premier League

Guardiola said: “It’s a hamstring injury. We will see. Of course it takes weeks. We will see before Leicester, Madrid and the rest of the games. I don’t know right now.

“It’s a problem. We were without (Ilkay) Gundogan for six months in the first year and (Aymeric) Laporte this season for four months.

“It’s always a problem but it’s what it is. During the season it happens unfortunately.”


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