MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Pep Guardiola distanced himself on Friday from suggestions that his decision to extend his contract at Manchester City was linked to the possibility of Lionel Messi moving to the club next year.
City was linked with the 33-year-old Messi after he put in a transfer request at Barcelona during the offseason. The Argentina forward ultimately chose to stay at Barcelona, somewhat against his own wishes, but his contract expires at the end of the season.
Guardiola signed a new two-year deal with City this week that ties him to the club until 2023. He was asked Friday whether the possibility of working with the six-time world player of the year again was motivation for his decision.
“Leo Messi is a player from Barcelona. And you ask me my opinion, as a person who has huge gratitude for what Barcelona has done for me in the academy