There was a time when a reunion between Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola seemed possible, but on Tuesday they will be in the opposite direction again when Paris Saint-Germain play Manchester City in the Champions League.
Things might be different if it weren’t for Jack Grellish.
City announced on August 5 that they would sign a 100 100 million (139 139 million) deal with Austin Villa, the same day Barcelona revealed that Messi would not be staying at Camp Nou.
A year ago, when Messi tried to force his departure from Catalonia, the city appeared to be the most likely destination.
In the end, Barcelona stopped the six-time Ballon d’Or winner from leaving, and 12 months later Messi was prepared to stay until it became clear that the financial turmoil at Camp Nou meant He can’t go
If City had expected Messi to be available, they might have moved on. But instead he turned his attention to Grealish and was trying to sign the hurricane, a move that ultimately did not happen.
“It’s not in our minds right now,” Guardiola said when asked if the city could move to Macy’s.
It says a lot about the modern game that PSG was the second realistic destination for the 34-year-old, whom Guardiola called the greatest player ever.
Messi has played just three games for his new club and has yet to score a goal. He has been sidelined with a knee injury in the last two PSG matches but the realization is that Mauricio Pochettino is saving him for City.
After a 1-1 draw with Club Brugge in their opening game, PSG need a positive result against City to prevent their rivals from taking control of their Champions League group.
Messi would love to open an account in Paris on such an occasion, and Guardiola is already on the brink of losing Argentine intelligence in Europe.
Guardiola faced his old club for the first time in the Champions League semi-finals in 2015, after leaving Barcelona at the end of four glorious years in 2012 to oversee the transition from Messi’s superstar to the best in the world.
Barcelona beat Guardiola’s Byron 5-3 on aggregate to win the trophy. Messi put in a superb performance, scoring twice late in the first leg’s 3-0 win at Camp Nine, effectively hitting the tie.
The two came face to face in the group stage in 2016, shortly after Guardiola arrived in the city.
Messi scored a hat-trick as Barca won 4-0 at Camp Nine and then put their team ahead in Manchester, but City won 3-1.
This time around, both City and PSG are expected to advance from their group and both men are eager to win the Champions League again – the last of Messi’s four titles came in 2015, while Guardiola did not lift the trophy when Messi impresses Barcelona Manchester United lost 3-1 in the 2011 final
While the world waits to see what the outcome of Messi’s trip to Paris will be, Guardiola continues to lament the absence of a center forward in the city as the last piece of his jigsaw.
It appeared on Saturday when, for all his chances, he was limited to a goal from Gabriel Jesus in a 1-0 win over Chelsea.
Earlier, Guardiola had lamented the lack of “weapons” in front of the city.
He said the club needed a striker in the coming years.
PSG certainly has more than one such player. Killian Mbabane has been the top scorer in France in each of the last three seasons.
Messi left Barcelona as his all-time top scorer with 672 goals in 778 matches.
His peak at Camp Nou came in Guardiola’s last season in 2011-12, when he scored an incredible 73 goals.
No one knows Messi’s game better than Guardiola, but no one knows better than Pep that when Messi is at the top of his game there is no one to stop him.