Lionel Messi has spoken glowingly about his former manager, Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, claiming he "has something special" about him, as speculation over their potential reunion continues.
"He makes you see things in a wonderful way, how he prepares for games, how to defend, and how to attack", Messi, who famously enjoyed a lengthy winning stint under Guardiola at Barca from 2008 to 2012, told Spanish television channel La Sexta in an exclusive interview.
The Argentinian footballer went on to assert he was "lucky…to train under Guardiola and Luis Enrique, the two best", adding they made him "grow a lot physically and mentally" and also bringing up "the tactical wisdom they've taught me".
Under Guardiola Messi won the Champions League twice and a hat-trick of La Liga titles between 2008 and 2012, grabbing 14 trophies overall during the Catalan's tenure, not counting three Ballon d'Or honours.
Guardiola recently signed a two-year extension at City which means he will remain at the Etihad until 2023. The development, coupled with Messi's praise of his former mentor, couldn't help but refuel speculation among football fans that the Barca star might again attempt to leave Camp Nou, and most likely, for Man City.
The last time Lionel Messi played a full season under Pep Guardiola 🤯— Culé 🏴 (@MessiScored) December 26, 2020
Games: 60 🏃
Goals: 73 ⚽
Assists: 33 🎯
Messi‘s overall stats under Guardiola’s charge:
4/4 Ballon D’ors 🏆
Tomorrow we’ll know if a reunion is on the cards. pic.twitter.com/zWZkGI3Jb1
Messi + Guardiola = 🥰— Goal News (@GoalNews) December 26, 2020
"Leo Messi recognizes their [Guardiola's and Enrique's] influence and flatters them. Hopefully they return to Barca one day," another netizen suggested in Spanish.
Qué suerte tuvimos de disfrutar de Pep Guardiola y de Luis Enrique. Dos entrenadores que han sabido dejar huella más allá de los aspectos futbolísticos. Leo Messi reconoce su influencia y les halaga. Ojalá que vuelvan al Barça algún día. #FCBarcelona pic.twitter.com/GDUMLgcz7Q— Miquel Blázquez (@BlazquezFont) December 26, 2020
Yet, the English Premier League team are still viewed as the frontrunners for Messi's services, after being heavily linked with a move for him last summer. Also, back in November, The Times reported, albeit without citing any sources, that Manchester City had launched another bid to sign the Barcelona superstar and was ostensibly ready to offer the Argentinian a 10-year contract.
Lionel Messi wants to join Manchester City, according to Argentine newspaper La Nacion 🇦🇷 pic.twitter.com/faFqDjXrz8— Goal (@goal) August 26, 2020
Messi wanted to join Manchester City and that should be taken as immense praise for what the club has done over the past ten years. Maybe next year, but as ever, better to not have any expectations.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) September 4, 2020
Whatever the future may hold for both, Messi and his former boss, the 33-year-old Argentinian came out recently expressing an intention to continue at Barcelona and achieve more success there, irrespective of a rocky end to last season, when he submitted a transfer request via burofax.
"I'm fine today. It's true that I had a very bad time in the summer. It came from before. What happened before the summer, the way the season ended, the burofax and all that", Messi confided, stressing he feels like "seriously fighting for everything that's ahead of us".
'Want Him to Finish Career There'
Guardiola, for his part, said last month that he cannot be certain about Messi's possible transfer, but he hopes he will continue to be a Barca mainstay and remain at the la Liga club until the end of his career.
"What I want is [for him] to finish his career there. I would love it, I would wish it. That is what I said I don't know how many times maybe a thousand times. I would like as a Barcelona fan for Leo to finish there. But he finishes this year the contract and I don't know what's going to happen in his mind. Right now he is a Barcelona player and the transfer market will be in June and July", Guardiola told a news conference in late November, shortly after he signed a new deal at Manchester City.