MANCHESTER CITY are lining up one of the most sensational transfers of all time as they bid to sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona.
Various reports in Spain claim that one of the main reasons behind the move is the Argentine’s desire to reunite with Pep Guardiola.
There has even been talk that Messi has spoken to his former mentor and been told that he can win two Ballon d’Or titles at City.
The pair worked wonders during their time at Barcelona together.
Under Guardiola, Messi lifted an incredible 14 trophies, including two Champions Leagues, in just four years and won three Ballon d’Or awards.
Yet according to Spanish outlet Marca, their relationship has also suffered at times.
Messi raised eyebrows when he was the only senior figure in Barcelona’s first-team squad not to attend Guardiola’s Blaugrana farewell in 2013.
His absence was interpreted as evidence of a deteriorating relationship with Pep yet the forward insisted that he was too emotional to show-up.
He wanted to change his role in the team and Guardiola wasn’t prepared to be dictated to by Messi. There was a period of fractious relationship
Marca report that Messi had refused to speak to Guardiola for days after he was benched for Barcelona’s trip to Real Sociedad the previous September.
The outlet also claim that the Nou Camp skipper took issue with some of his manager’s team selections, a criticism that has remerged at City.
Messi was said to be aggrieved by the inclusion of Cristian Tello and Isaac Cuenca in crucial matches against Real Madrid and Chelsea.
The Argentina international allegedly was refused by Guardiola, who is renowned for his tactical precision, to be given more freedom on the field.
Football expert Ian McGarry said on his podcast: “Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi dictate where they play and how they play and that’s where he fell out with Messi when he was at Barcelona, because Messi was demanding too much from Guardiola regarding his role.
“He wanted to change his role in the team and Guardiola wasn’t prepared to be dictated to by Messi.
“There was a period of fractious relationship which was finally amended by an intermediary.”
Messi himself admitted in 2015 that he no longer has a special relationship with Guardiola and the pair stopped speaking after he left Barca.
He said: “We had a great time when Pep was here. We won a lot of titles and I grew a lot – that was the time when I grew most as a footballer.
“We had a fantastic relationship when he was here. I have seen him a few times since he left, but we don’t have any kind of relationship now.”
Yet it seems any tension between the two has long since passed, with Guardiola hailing Messi for his footballing genius last year.
Reflecting on the time he first became aware of how special Messi was, he told Catalunya Radio: “I had already been told by someone from the squad that there was a very good player in the squad.
“They told me that he was very young but scored many goals and he was very good.
“I did not know him and one day I saw him and his father at a Nike store. I saw him, he looked small and shy and I thought: ‘Is this one as good as they say?’
“We started pre-season in Scotland, we won 6-1, 5-0 and he would score three goals a game for you.
“I thought that, with him, we would win everything.”