Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci called Manchester City during the close-season to try to push through a move to England, according to the Premier League club’s chief executive Ferran Soriano.
Bonucci impressed during Italy’s run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 and was regularly linked to City after Etihad Stadium boss Pep Guardiola labelled him “one of my favourite ever players”.
Those comments came after Juve faced Guardiola’s Bayern Munich team during last season’s Champions League and Soriano told Barcelona-based radio stadio RAC1 the admiration turned out to be mutual.
“At the moment there are a lot of players that want to play under Pep,” he said.
“The Italian central defender Bonucci wants to play for him and he called us.
“I called the Juventus sporting director [Fabio Paratici] and he told me they didn’t want to sell. There ended the story.”
One story seemingly set to run and run is the one linking Barca superstar Lionel Messi to City, with Guardiola fielding questions on the issue ahead of the teams meeting at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
The former Barca boss denied claims made by Mundo Deportivo that City contacted Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets to sound them out over playing in the Premier League.
Soriano backed up Guardiola’s version of events, maintaining City only made enquiries to the club over goalkeepers Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo, with the latter now first choice in Manchester.
“The natural thing is that Messi ends his sporting career with Barcelona, but if one day he calls us, we’ll pick up the phone and we’ll immediately open the door [to him],” Soriano said. “But no, we will not call him.
“City didn’t get in contact with any Barca players and we didn’t make any offers.
“It’s what happened with Cesc [Fabregas] a few years ago. His agent came to us to try and do a deal and we advised Barcelona, although I still saw a front cover saying: ‘Soriano after Cesc’.
“There were other times, too, but the relationship with [Barcelona president Josep Maria] Bartomeu is really good.
“Our relationship with Barca is good. There are agents that call Barca saying they have an offer from City and then [Barca] call us to see if it’s true and we deny it.”
On Bravo and Ter Stegen, Soriano added: “It was brought to our attention that both want to play every game and weren’t happy with the situation.
“From there we talked with Barca and we asked if they wanted to sell one. Bravo ended up coming.”