Pep Guardiola brushes off Lionel Messi to Manchester City talk
Pep Guardiola has dismissed suggestions Manchester City could sign world player of the year Lionel Messi.
The Barcelona playmaker has again been linked with City after reports of unrest at the Nou Camp.
Messi, 32, is reported to have a clause in his contract that would allow him to leave Barca on a free transfer at the end of the season.
There is an obvious connection between the six-time Ballon d’Or winner and Guardiola, under whom he won two Champions League titles at Barcelona, but the current City manager is not expecting to renew their partnership.
“He is a player from Barcelona and he will stay there, that’s my wish for him to stay in Barcelona,” said Guardiola, who remains a Barca fan and has frequently been asked about Messi throughout his tenure at the Etihad Stadium.
“I’m not going to talk about players for other clubs. I think he will finish his career there, that’s my wish.”
Guardiola is without one of his current star players for Sunday’s Premier League clash with West Ham after Raheem Sterling suffered a hamstring injury in last week’s defeat at Tottenham.
City are still unclear how long the England international will be absent and whether he will be fit to face Real Madrid in the Champions League on February 26.
Guardiola said: “It’s a hamstring injury, and we will see. Of course it takes weeks but we’ll see before Leicester, (Real) Madrid and the rest of the games. I don’t know right now.
“It’s a problem, but it’s a problem we had with (Ilkay) Gundogan out for six months in the first year, and (Aymeric) Laporte this season for four or five months.
“It’s always a problem but it is what it is. During the season it happens, this kind of thing. unfortunately for the players.”
Germany winger Leroy Sane is close to returning after missing most of the season following a knee operation. Sane has been sidelined since suffering injury in the Community Shield against Liverpool in August.
The visit of the Hammers will come too soon but the 24-year-old could figure in the coming weeks.
Guardiola said: “He’s started to train with us but he is still not there. When you have an injury, especially this one for six months, you don’t train for one week and then immediately you are there.
“You need to recover tempo, rhythm, confidence in your knee and don’t think about the injury. He needs time.
“It’s not like an ankle or a muscular injury. This injury needs time. He needs weeks.
“What’s important is the surgery was perfect and he’s recovering incredibly well. He’ll come back stronger than before but now he needs a little bit of time.”