La Liga 2016/17: Josep Bartomeu rubbishes talk of Lionel Messi joining Manchester City
Ever since Manchester City announced the signing of Pep Guardiola as their manager, speculation has been rife over the potential transfer of many Barcelona stars, among which Lionel Messi is a prominent name. However, in a recent interview with Telegraph Sport, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu ruled out any such prospect in the near future.
The financial strength of Premier League clubs has been a major headache for other leagues as they have been forced to part ways with many of their best players to the likes of United, City, Arsenal, Chelsea and others. Manchester City, in particular, are in the market to lure the best players around the world as they look to materialize the huge project they started with the establishment of a £200 million academy setup.
The recruitment of Pep Guardiola was seen as the first major step in their quest to become the very best in Europe, and they have constantly monitored the situation of Lionel Messi in Barcelona – with the Argentine’s contract due to expire at the end of 2018 Russia World Cup. But Barca president Josep Bartomeu is hopeful that they will be able to fend off any such transfer.
“This is a decision for Leo Messi or for any player to change club. Right now Leo Messi has a contract to the end of the Russian World Cup and we are very happy with him, very happy. He’s the best player in the world, by far,” he said.
“I don’t know what will happen in the future but of course, we will always try to explain to him that he is at the best club in the world and this is the best place for him to live and he is living the best experience of his life with us,” he added.
“He is still only 29. And if you see him playing it seems like he is one of our very young players. Leo Messi reinvented himself two years ago and changed the way he played and he is a better player now than he was then, a much better player. So normally players increase and then reduce but he is still growing. So where are the limits? We don’t know.”
Pep’s healthy relationship with the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is a key factor for City to keep their hopes alive of landing Messi at the Etihad someday, and they also have the requisite resources to push through such transfers – which Bartomeu is well aware of. However, he thinks the quality of La Liga is much better and at the moment the front three of Messi, Suarez and Neymar is doing a fantastic job.
The president remains positive that they will be able to tie down Messi with a new contract in a couple of months, after their success in renewing Neymar’s contract for another five years. According to Bartomeu, Messi’s move to City is nowhere close to the realm of possibility, while Pep returning to Barcelona in the future is more likely.