Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini refused to be drawn on the latest round of speculation linking the Premier League club with sensational swoops for Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi.
The Sun newspaper reported on Friday that City were set to break the bank with a staggering weekly wage offer of £800,000 to tempt Barcelona hero Messi away from Camp Nou.
Spanish radio station COPE claimed Pellegrini would not be the man at the helm if the Argentina superstar did make the switch to the Etihad Stadium, reporting that ex-Barcelona coach Guardiola would leave Bayern Munich at the end of his contract in Germany and join City under an agreement with the club’s director of football Txiki Begiristain.
Pellegrini acknowledged that links with Guardiola have been persistent during his time with the club, largely as a result of Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano’s status as prominent former board members at Barcelona.
“It is a rumour that we have had for the last two-and-a-half seasons here. There is not a problem about that,” he told a news conference ahead of Saturday’s match against Southampton, where City are aiming to end a three-match winless run in all competitions.
On Messi, he added: “I don’t talk about rumours. I think every manager in the world would like Lionel Messi.”
Pressed further on the Messi link, Pellegrini simply responded: “I think we must win against Southampton.”