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Messi staying at Barca my dream - Guardiola quells City speculation

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola joined Txiki Begiristain in drawing a line under blockbuster moves for Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe.

PepMessi-cropped
Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi

Pep Guardiola distanced Manchester City from a move for Lionel Messi, reiterating it is his "dream" for the superstar forward to complete his career at Barcelona.

City have been regularly touted as a future destination for Messi since Guardiola's former Barca colleague Txiki Begiristain was appointed as director of football at the Etihad Stadium in 2012.

Amid reports over the past week linking City with both an immediate move for Messi by activating his release clause at Camp Nou and signing him on a free transfer at the end of the season, with the five-time Ballon d'Or winner's new contract still unsigned, Begiristain told reporters at Thursday's Champions League draw in Monaco that such a move was "impossible".

City's transfer mastermind also ruled the club out of the running for teenage Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe, with Paris Saint-Germain heavily touted as the frontrunners for his signature.

Speaking ahead of his side's Premier League trip to Bournemouth, Guardiola insisted Begiristain's stance was not a case of smoke and mirrors late on in the transfer window.

"They are players from Monaco and Barcelona," he said.

"My dream is for one of them to stay for his career in Barcelona. The other is a young talent. He will decide.

"Txiki was clear. I don't have anything more to say."

Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez and West Brom defender Jonny Evans perhaps represent more attainable targets before next week's deadline.

Sanchez is reportedly keen on a reunion with Guardiola, who brought him to Barcelona in 2011, while City had a bid in the region of £18million for former Manchester United centre-back Evans rejected by Albion last week.

"[Alexis] is an Arsenal player, like Mbappe is a Monaco player, like Jonny Evans is a West Bromwich Albion player.

"You have to ask Alexis. Normally I don't talk about players from other clubs."

"I'm happy with the squad I have. We have five or six days left, and I think the market is going to move because all the managers at the other clubs are [trying] to make the transfers cheaper in the last seconds."

Guardiola confirmed Danilo is in line to start at right-back or right wing-back at Bournemouth after fellow new recruit Kyle Walker was sent off during the first half of Monday's 1-1 draw against Everton.

Benjamin Mendy, another big-money full-back recruit, will travel with the squad and could make his debut after shaking off a thigh problem, although Ilkay Gundogan will step up his recovery from cruciate knee ligament surgery by playing for City's second string on Friday.

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