Pep Guardiola has hit out at Mundo Deportivo newspaper over a report that he had phoned Lionel Messi and Neymar in an attempt to sign them for Manchester City. Although he admitted calling Neymar while managing Barcelona, Guardiola said he wished Messi to finish his career with the Spanish giants.
In September, Mundo Deportivo, a local newspaper in Barcelona, ran a front-page story which claimed that Guardiola had tried to persuade Barcelona's star attackers Messi and Neymar to join him at Manchester City. The story said these discussions were made after City’s CEO, Ferran Soriano, met up with Messi’s representatives during the summer.
Guardiola rubbished the report at a press conference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash between Barcelona and Manchester City at Camp Nou.
“I didn't call any player on the phone,” he stated. “I know there are wars that are lost before they are even started. I don't want to justify my words and compare them against what has been said. It would be nice if both versions of the story were contrasted. Nobody has called me.
“I called Thiago at the time [in 2013] because his representative was my brother and we managed to sign him for Bayern. We saw a good opportunity.”
However, the City boss admitted that he had called Neymar while managing Barcelona.
"A couple of years ago I called Neymar to sign him for Barca. Sandro Rossell, the president, saw an opportunity to do it and we phoned him up. When I was in New York it was not clear if Real Madrid would sign him and I called his father to see if there was a chance. I spoke to him and said, 'If you have a chance I think you should go to Barcelona' and you can call Neymar's dad if you want. He decided to come to Barcelona in the end.
“If you are talking about this summer, I never called Messi. I never called Neymar, Luis Suarez, Busquets, Iniesta, I didn't call anybody,” Guardiola clarified.
Speaking about his former pupil Messi, Guardiola said if Messi ever considers a move to England, there would be more than seven clubs willing to sign him.
"In the case of
“Maybe it could happen, but if he decides to go and it happens, there would be a list of seven or eight clubs that would want to sign him, and it would be down to him. Messi will decide where to go.”
The ex-Barca coach then calmed down saying, “I have had a chance to explain myself. It is not true. I never called a single player from FC Barcelona. I am sorry about the information, where that came from.”