There was a time when a reunion between Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola appeared distinctly potential, however on Tuesday they are going to be on reverse sides again when Paris Saint-Germain play Manchester City within the Champions League.
Had it not been for Jack Grealish, maybe issues would have turned out in a different way.
City introduced the £100 million ($139m) signing of Grealish from Aston Villa on August 5, the identical day Barcelona revealed Messi wouldn’t be staying on the Camp Nou.
A 12 months in the past, when Messi tried to pressure his departure from Catalonia, City appeared the most probably vacation spot.
In the tip Barcelona prevented the six-time Ballon d’Or winner from leaving then and 12 months later Messi was ready to remain put till it turned clear the monetary mess on the Camp Nou meant he couldn’t.
If City had anticipated Messi changing into accessible, they could have moved for him. But as an alternative they targeted their sights on Grealish and have been making an attempt to signal Harry Kane, a transfer that finally did not occur.
“Right now it is not in our thoughts,” Guardiola mentioned when requested if City may transfer for Messi.
It says a lot concerning the trendy recreation that PSG have been the one different sensible vacation spot for the 34-year-old who Guardiola has described as the best participant of all time.
Messi has performed simply three video games for his new membership and is but to attain. He has sat out PSG’s final two matches with a knee downside however the feeling is that Mauricio Pochettino has been saving him for City.
After being held 1-1 by Club Brugge of their opening recreation, PSG want a optimistic outcome towards City to cease their rivals taking management of their Champions League group.
Messi will fancy opening his account in Paris on such an event, and Guardiola has already been on the receiving finish of the Argentine’s genius in Europe.
After Guardiola left Barcelona in 2012 on the finish of 4 superb years by which he oversaw Messi’s transition from celebrity within the making to one of the best on the earth, he confronted his outdated membership for the primary time within the Champions League semi-finals in 2015.
Barcelona beat Guardiola’s Bayern 5-3 on combination on the best way to successful the trophy. Messi produced a elegant efficiency to attain two late objectives in a 3-0 first-leg win on the Camp Nou that successfully killed the tie.
The solely different time the duo have come up towards one another was within the group stage in 2016, simply after Guardiola arrived at City.
Messi scored a hat-trick as Barca received 4-0 on the Camp Nou and he then put his facet forward in Manchester, however City received 3-1.
This time the expectation is each City and PSG will progress from their group and each males are determined to win the Champions League again — the final of Messi’s 4 titles got here in 2015, whereas Guardiola has not lifted the trophy since Messi impressed Barcelona to a 3-1 win over Manchester United within the 2011 closing.
While the world waits to see how Messi’s transfer to Paris seems, Guardiola continues to remorse the absence of a prolific centre-forward as the ultimate piece of his jigsaw at City.
That was evident on Saturday when, for all their possibilities, they have been restricted to a single objective by Gabriel Jesus in a 1-0 win at Chelsea.
Prior to that Guardiola had spoken of his remorse at City’s lack of a “weapon” up entrance.
“The club needs in the next years a striker. When it’s not possible, it’s not possible, we move on with the fantastic squad we have,” he mentioned.
PSG, in fact, have a couple of such participant. Kylian Mbappe has been the highest scorer in France in every of the final three seasons.
Messi left Barcelona as their all-time high scorer with 672 objectives in 778 appearances.
His peak on the Camp Nou got here in Guardiola’s closing season there, in 2011-12, when he scored an unimaginable 73 objectives.
Nobody is aware of Messi’s recreation higher than Guardiola, however no person is aware of higher than Pep that there isn’t any stopping Messi when he’s on the high of his recreation.