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If Messi comes to Manchester I hope it’s United not City, says Mata

The Red Devils midfielder does not want to see the Barcelona superstar make his way to Etihad Stadium next year

Juan Mata hopes if Lionel Messi comes to Manchester it’s to United and not City, but he is not paying too much attention to the transfer rumours surrounding the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Messi is heavily linked with a move away from Barcelona as he approaches the final months of his current contract.

The 33-year-old tried to manufacture a way out of Camp Nou in the summer transfer window only to find his exit blocked by Blaugrana and La Liga officials.

The Argentine eventually announced he would be staying put for another season during an exclusive interview with Goal, but also admitted he no longer feels that Barca can compete for top trophies at the very highest level.

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Messi has been proven right at the start of the 2020-21 La Liga campaign, which has been Barca’s worst for 30 years, with Champions League group stage progress for Ronald Koeman’s side doing little more than papering over the cracks.

Manchester City, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain have been tipped to try and lure the superstar away from Catalonia next year, with current Camp Nou interim president Carles Tusquets insisting the club would be better off financially without Messi.

City has been mooted as the most likely next destination for Messi because of Pep Guardiola’s presence at Etihad Stadium, but Mata would much prefer to see a man regarded as one of the best players in history make his way to Old Trafford.

“Well I hope not – I hope not for the betterment of my club,” the Manchester United midfielder said of rumours linking the Argentina international with City while speaking in his role as an ambassador for Laureus. “I don’t know what will happen, but I hope he doesn’t go there. If he comes to Manchester I hope it’s to my club and not the other.

“There were rumours, for example, that Cristiano Ronaldo might come back to Manchester in the future. One of the things that I realised in professional football is that you should focus on what you can control and forget about what you cannot.”

Messi played the full 90 minutes of Barca’s shock 2-1 defeat away at Cadiz on Saturday, which leaves them 12 points behind current Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

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Mata, meanwhile, came on as a second-half substitute during United’s 3-1 win at West Ham this weekend and provided an assist for Marcus Rashford to round off the scoring.

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