Man City boss Pep Guardiola has left the door open for six-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi to join the Cityzens next summer when his contract with Barcelona expires. Earlier this summer, Lionel Messi sent the football community into a frenzy by handing in his transfer request in an attempt to leave Barcelona after nearly 20 years at the club. However, due to the Argentine's staggering €700 million (£630m) release clause, which was active at the time, Barcelona blocked his transfer and Messi was forced to stay put at the Camp Nou.
In September, during an exclusive interview with Goal, Lionel Messi spilt the beans over his decision to leave Barcelona and admitted that his frustrations at the club were growing with each passing day. However, Messi opted against taking the club he "adored" to court over legal proceedings. With Messi's current Barcelona contract expiring in the summer of 2021, there has been plenty of speculation over his future and Pep Guardiola has revealed his thoughts on the matter.
While speaking to reporters ahead of Man City's crunch clash against Tottenham on Saturday, Pep Guardiola admitted that he would prefer if Lionel Messi retired at Barcelona itself. "I will forever be thankful for what Barcelona have done for me and honestly, I would like it if Messi finishes his career there. I think I've said that more than one thousand times."
Pep Guardiola on Lionel Messi: “I don't know what is on his mind. For now, he is a Barcelona player. The transfer market is in June or July. So this is only half on our minds - the rest, I cannot say anything else, as always.”— Man City Xtra (@City_Xtra) November 20, 2020
However, Guardiola, who recently signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Man City until 2023, claimed that his team would be targeting top players at the same time Messi's contract expires. "But when Messi's contract finishes, I don't know what will happen. Right now he is a Barca player but in June or July, we will have targets of our own that we want to achieve. So that's all I can say for now," he added.
Messi's current deal with Barcelona expires in the summer of 2021 and he could sign pre-contract terms with any club outside Spain from January 1 onwards. The Barcelona captain had openly claimed that he had issues with Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned as Barcelona president in October. Guardiola and Messi worked together for four years at the Camp Nou, winning three LaLiga titles and two Champions Leagues together.