Lionel Messi was desperate to join Manchester City and reunite with Pep Guardiola in 2020, so much so that he almost begged his former manager to sanction the move.
That’s according to Sport, who cover the imminent release of journalist Martí Perarnau’s book ‘God save Pep’, which details efforts to take Messi to Manchester City three years ago.
Sport explain that Messi offered himself to Guardiola and City in the summer of 2020 when the crisis between the Argentine and Barcelona’s board, headed up by Josep Maria Bartomeu, led to Messi asking to leave the club.
This is all detailed in the upcoming book, which Sport say sees the author combine ‘deep knowledge’ of the situation with an agile narrative to chronicle Guardiola’s seven years at Manchester City so far.
In the chapter title “I just want to break it” the author covers the potential arrival of Messi to the Etihad, something triggered by Sergio Agüero.
According to the journalist, the former striker sent a WhatsApp stating ‘watch out, two things can happen. Leo asked me how long Pep has a contract with City’.
This ‘triggered alerts in the club’, with Guardiola reading the message on his return from Manchester City’s defeat to Lyon in the 2019/20 Champions League quarter finals.
“Hello Pep, how are you?” the journalist reports it saying, with Sport saying he “has made the decision. He is leaving. And he wants to know if he can meet his teacher again. He has taken the initiative” to make a move to Manchester City happen.
That led to a meeting at Guardiola’s home in Barcelona, when Messi reportedly told Guardiola to his face “Mister, I just want to break it”.
He reportedly went on to explain his differences with the Barcelona directors and Bartomeu in particular, with whom he feels “deceived and betrayed.”
Guardiola then told Messi that “it rains a lot in Manchester” before the pair then chatted for hours about a potential transfer.
This led the Manchester City coach to explain to those in charge at the Etihad that he was willing to extend his contract at the club if the operation to get Messi, which would be led by Ferran Soriano and Jorge Messi, the player’s father and representative, succeeded.
The deal never happened, largely because of the €750m clause that remained in Messi’s contract at Barcelona, but Martí Perarnau’s book reveals some ‘succulent dialogue’ to close the chapter, as detailed below.
Guardiola – In Manchester we train very hard…
Messi – I will train hard, I’m not worried.
Guardiola – And I continued making long tactical talks. Maybe you’ll get bored…
Messi – I’ll hold on. I will put up with everything you do.
Guardiola – Leo, we have grown older. Maybe we can’t stand each other anymore.
Messi – Pep, I just want to break it.