Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said he wants Lionel Messi to finish his career at Barcelona.
Guardiola signed a two-year contract extension on Thursday and was immediately linked with his ex-player, who came close to moving last summer.
Guardiola said: “Messi is a Barcelona player. I said it a thousand times. As a fan, I want Leo to finish there.”
Messi’s contract at Barcelona will end next summer, which means he would be free to join any other club of his choosing.
The Argentine star had wanted to initiate a free transfer after few months ago but the Barcelona board resisted the move. And he eventually agreed to stay and see out his contract.
Josep Maria Bartomeu, who blocked Messi’s transfer move, resigned from his position as Barcelona’s President but it remains uncertain if that would make the six-time Ballon d’or winner renew his contract at the club.
“His contract finishes this year [season] and I don’t know what will happen in his mind,” Guardiola said.
“I have huge gratitude for Barcelona and what they have done for me,” said Guardiola, who worked with Messi when managing Barcelona between 2008 and 2012.
“In the academy, as a player and a manager, they gave me absolutely everything. Right now Messi is a Barcelona player and the transfer market is in June and July.
“We have incredible games and targets and things we would like to achieve. That is the only thing in our mind. The rest, I cannot say anything.”
Apart from City, Paris Saint-Germain have also shown interest in having Messi join former teammate Neymar at the French side.