Hope in the City

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

years of ser­vice for the Ar­gen­tine na­tional side.

But speak­ing last month, Guardi­ola de­nied that he had made any form of move to bring Messi to City.

“I did not call Messi, I want him to fin­ish his ca­reer here (in Barcelona),” Guardi­ola said.

“If he de­cides to leave, there will be a list of 4-6 clubs that will want to sign him in.

“But that will be de­cided by him, not me or any­one else.”

Nonethe­less, the Spa­niard sug­gested that Messi could be tempted to make the switch for the op­por­tu­nity of a “new ex­pe­ri­ence”.

“But just the same, the kid might want a change, for his chil­dren, to learn English, or for a new ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Ru­mours link­ing Messi to City have been sparked by Span­ish sports daily Marca’s re­cent al­le­ga­tions that the player has grown dis­il­lu­sioned with Barcelona due to his on-go­ing dis­pute with Span­ish tax au­thor­i­ties.

Messi was handed a sus­pended 21-month prison sen­tence in July for tax eva­sion af­ter he and his fa­ther were found guilty of us­ing tax havens in or­der to hide more than £3 mil­lion (RM16.5m) in earn­ings.

Barcelona are angry with Marca af­ter they led Mon­day’s news­pa­per with a cover story claim­ing that Messi’s re­jec­tion of their lat­est con­tract of­fer was re­venge for snub­bing their awards cer­e­mony last month.

Ac­cord­ing to Span­ish news­pa­per Sport, there may be ul­te­rior mo­tives be­hind the story, at least that’s what Barcelona sus­pect.

It’s claimed that talks with Messi re­main on­go­ing and that the Span­ish cham­pi­ons be­lieve the rev­e­la­tions are re­venge for not turn­ing up to Marca’s awards cer­e­mony on Oct 25.

The Cata­lan club de­cided to snub the awards cer­e­mony due to the pres­i­dent of the Liga de Fut­bol Pro­fe­sional (LFP), Javier Te­bas, be­ing awarded a fair play achieve­ment.

Te­bas crit­i­cised Barcelona play­ers fol­low­ing the 3-2 vic­tory at Va­len­cia for their ac­tions af­ter items were thrown at them from the home fans, with Ney­mar ap­pear­ing to be struck by a bot­tle that also saw Luis Suarez fall to the ground clutch­ing his face.

It must also be said that the state of Span­ish news­pa­pers adds doubts to the story that Messi has snubbed Barcelona, given Marca’s strong ties to their arch-ri­vals Real Madrid. Sport, a Barcelona-based news­pa­per, of­ten con­tra­dict re­ports that ap­pear in Marca, and vice versa. – The In­de­pen­dent

Ar­gentina’s Lionel Messi strug­gles for the ball with Colom­bia’s mid­field­ers Wil­mar Bar­rios (cen­tre) and Car­los Sanchez (right) dur­ing yes­ter­day’s 2018 World Cup qual­i­fier in San Juan. – AFPPIX

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