EPL

Man City distance themselves from Messi reports

By Sports Desk February 19, 2021

Manchester City have denied reports of a £433million package being proposed to lure Lionel Messi to the Premier League.

Messi is out of contract at Barcelona at the end of this season, having tried to engineer a departure from Camp Nou last August.

During that time, he was heavily linked to City and a reunion with Pep Guardiola, while Barca's appeal to the superstar forward arguably suffered another heavy blow as they were thrashed 4-1 by Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League this week.

On Friday, The Sun reported Messi had a five-year proposal worth £606m put to him by City before the current campaign, although this figure has been revised due to the wider financial climate of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the fact the six-time Ballon d'Or winner will be 34 in June.

However, a club spokesperson told Stats Perform no such offer has been made, nor are there any talks currently ongoing.

Were Messi to sign for City, it looks increasingly likely he would be joining a title-winning side.

Guardiola's men extended their record-breaking winning run for an English top-flight team to 17 matches across all competitions by beating Everton 3-1 in midweek, a result that stretched their lead at the top of the table to 10 points.

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti said he felt City were "impossible" to play against after a dazzling second-half showing at Goodison Park, where fine strikes from Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva - both players adept in the right-sided attacking roles Messi has filled for large chunks of his career - saw the visitors pull clear.

"I appreciate it, but I don't agree with Carlo, absolutely I do not agree," Guardiola said ahead of Sunday's trip to Arsenal.

"We can lose, the opponents are good and we try to do better than them every single game. This is the only target.

"I love Carlo, he is an incredible inspiration for me as a manager, for many things, but I don't agree with him."

Ilkay Gundogan sat out the Everton game with a groin complaint and Guardiola will make a late call on the Germany playmaker, who has been in sparkling form of late with nine goals in as many Premier League games since the turn of the year.

Gundogan's performances meant Kevin De Bruyne's absence with a hamstring injury was not felt as keenly as might have been expected.

The Belgium star returned from the bench versus Everton and came through will no ill-effects, leaving defender Nathan Ake (hamstring) as City's only remaining senior absentee.

"Nathan is back training on the pitch alone but is closer to coming back with us," Guardiola added.

"Gundo trained just part of the training session today, we'll see how he feels. The rest are fit."

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    The Reds head into the final day of the season just a point behind leaders City, who face Aston Villa, managed by Liverpool great Steven Gerrard, in their last game.

    Liverpool take on Wolves at Anfield, in a repeat of the final fixture of the 2018-19 season, when the title race also went down to the wire. On that occasion, a victory for the Reds was not enough, as they lost out by a single point to City, who won at Brighton and Hove Albion.

    Even though history could repeat itself, Klopp – who like in 2019, has a Champions League final to look forward to – believes it has been an incredible campaign.

    Liverpool's title defence floundered in 2020-21 but they have returned to the top in style this season, winning both the EFL Cup and FA Cup.

    Speaking in a news conference on Friday, Klopp said: "After that game [Wolves in 2019] I was fine with the situation.

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    Klopp also believes that if City do pip Liverpool to the post once again, it will only spur his side onto more success in the future.

    "The biggest defeats in my life have led to the biggest successes in my life, wherever I was," he added. "Whether it was Mainz or whatever, it's a little bit like this.

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