BARCELONA

Guardiola: I want Messi to finish his career at Barcelona

Pep Guardiola looked to quash talk of Lionel Messi's potential move to Manchester City, stating he would rather see the Barcelona star end his career at Camp Nou.

Following the announcement on Thursday that Pep Guardiola has signed a new deal at Manchester City, which will keep him at the club until at least 2023, speculation has once again intensified linking Lionel Messi with the Premier League giants.

Due to his incredibly warm relationship with Messi from their days together at Camp Nou, the former Barca coach is seen as key to City’s plans to bring Messi to the Etihad, a move that looked set to happen in August until Barcelona pulled a plug on the operation.

City-Messi talk had quietened down since then. But Guardiola’s renewal announcement yesterday has once again put the spotlight on the Argentine striker’s potential switch to The Blues – with some reports speculating that that could happen as soon as January.

Guardiola, though, was quick to quash talk of a potential reunion between he and Messi at the Etihad at Friday’s press conference ahead of his side’s meeting with Tottenham on Saturday, stating that he would rather see the 33-year-old finish his career at Barcelona.

“Messi is a player from Barcelona, if you ask me my opinion I have a huge gratitude for what Barcelona has done for me, in the academy, as a player and as a manager, they gave me absolutely everything, what I want is for him to finish his career there,” said Guardiola.

“I would love, wish, I have said a thousand times. I would like as a Barcelona fan for him to finish his career then. I don't know what is in his mind, for now he is a Barcelona player. The transfer market is in June. This is only half in our minds.”

Guardiola (R) celebrates with Messi after the Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on May 3, 2011.

Messi and Barcelona

While Guardiola’s desire may be for Messi to finish his career at Camp Nou, it seems that the player himself could still be eager to leave Barcelona when his contract ends next summer.

Messi has made no secret of his fractured relationship with the club and confessed in an interview that he wanted to leave last August. But since his exit did not materialise, the Rosario-born forward promised to give his all at Camp Nou this season, during which time talks of his off-field-related issues have subsided as attentions have once again turned to the pitch.

But his latest comments on Wednesday upon his arrival at Barcelona airport following his involvement in Argentina’s World Cup qualifiers has one again fuelled reports that Messi’s discontent has prevailed, despite the fact that former president Josep Bartomeu – often cited as the main source of Messi’s ire at the club – has resigned.

"The truth is that I'm a little tired of always being the problem for everything at the club,” was his response after a reporter asked him about comments made by Antoine Griezmann’s former agent Eric Olhats, who accused Messi of overseeing a “regime of terror” at Barcelona.

As it stands, it seems that the Messi regime at Barcelona could come to an end next summer, at which point he may be delivered into the arms of his former coach and mentor at the Etihad – whether Guardiola wants that to happen or not.