Lionel Messi supposedly ‘pleaded’ with Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola to greenlight a move to the Etihad in 2020, despite also being linked with Premier League rivals Manchester United and Chelsea.
In August 2020, Messi told Barcelona he wanted to leave the club after a falling out with new manager Ronald Koeman. Messi’s camp thought the forward could leave for no transfer fee due to the terms in his contract, though Barca immediately stated that he was still protected by a huge £629million buy-out clause.
Messi was soon tipped to complete a huge move to England, with Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea all interested in snapping up arguably the best player of all time.
City were named as the frontrunners out of that Prem trio, thanks to Guardiola’s existing relationship with Messi and their huge success in recent years.
Ultimately, the Argentine legend performed a U-turn and ended up staying at Barca. But things could have been far different.
According to new book ‘God Save Pep’ by Marti Perarnau (as cited by the Daily Mirror), Messi contacted Guardiola through Sergio Aguero to try and engineer transfer talks with City.
He apparently ‘pleaded’ with the coach that he was a suitable signing for City, but Guardiola held reservations about him being 33 years old at the time.
“I will train hard, I’m not worried,” Messi supposedly said to Guardiola. “I will put up with everything you do.”
Lionel Messi failed to secure Man City transfer
A transfer to City never came to fruition, though. As per The Athletic, the Citizens decided to prioritise moves for England duo Jack Grealish and Harry Kane the following summer. They managed to prise Grealish away from his boyhood club Aston Villa but saw Tottenham Hotspur reject all their offers for Kane, who has now ended up at Bayern Munich.
Messi remained at Barca for the entirety of the 2020-21 campaign. But the World Cup winner was left heartbroken when he found out Barca would not be able to afford his new contract, despite him repeatedly lowering his demands.
Ultimately, Messi was forced to leave Barca, and he went on to spend two years at Paris Saint-Germain. He formed a deadly attacking trio with Kylian Mbappe and old Barca pal Neymar, though the Ligue 1 giants never managed to achieve their main goal of winning the Champions League.
The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner closed an important chapter in his career when he left Europe in July, signing for David Beckham’s MLS team Inter Miami.
Messi has had a colossal impact on Miami, registering 11 goals and five assists in 14 games and helping them to lift the Leagues Cup, the club’s first ever trophy.