Pep keen to move on from Messi saga

AFP

Messi asked to leave Barca in the tumultuous aftermath of its humiliating 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

City was widely viewed as the front-runner for his signature, with a reunion between Messi and Guardiola heavily tipped to happen before the six-time Ballon d'Or winner announced he would remain at Barcelona for the final year of his contract, accusing president Josep Maria Bartomeu of going back on his word and making the financial cost of any deal for a buying club "impossible".

LaLiga backed Barca in confirming the €700 million ($1.1 billion) release clause in Messi's contract remained valid.

Speaking ahead of next Tuesday's (AEST) trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers, where City will begin its attempt to unseat Liverpool and win a third Premier League title in four seasons, Guardiola was keen not to cause any friction with his former employer.

"I think I don't have to explain anything," he said. "Leo explained quite well his feelings, I don't have anything to add.

"He's a football player for FC Barcelona, the club I love, and there is nothing more to say."

Asked whether City would be interested in signing Messi were he to become available, at the age of 34, when his contract expires in June, Guardiola replied: "I don't know. It's a question for Leo Messi. I cannot talk about the intentions of other people."

Guardiola's forward line at Molineux will be entirely without Argentinian talent after he confirmed City's record goalscorer Sergio Aguero is yet to resume full training after meniscus surgery in June.

Riyad Mahrez is set to feature after time in isolation since a positive coronavirus test, although centre-back Aymeric Laporte only returned to training from his own COVID-19 absence on Saturday (AEST), and remains a doubt.

That could mean a debut for Nathan Ake at centre-back, one of two major close-season acquisitions for Guardiola, alongside winger Ferran Torres from Valencia.

"So far really good," he said of how Ake and Torres had settled.

"What we have to do with all the players and staff, the people close to them, is to help them to settle as quickly as possible.

"They are two nice people and it's good to have them with us."

City has been extensively linked with a move for Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, with the deal appearing to have stalled over recent weeks.

Nevertheless, Guardiola has no qualms over how his club has backed him in the transfer market.

"Since day one, when I arrived here, I was more than satisfied with what I had in the team," he added.

"The club do absolutely everything to do their best for all of us. I'm a lucky person to have these players and be in this club."