Pep Guardiola has reiterated his desire to see Lionel Messi remain at Barcelona, with the Manchester City boss refusing to be drawn on speculation suggesting that he could be reunited with the Argentine in England.
Speculation regarding a move away from Camp Nou for a six-time Ballon d’Or winner has surfaced again over recent weeks.
It is not the first time that Messi has seen a switch mooted, with an all-time great holding obvious appeal to any team on the planet.
He has remained fiercely loyal to Barca down the years, with fresh terms agreed on a regular basis.
Reports have, however, suggested that Messi has shelved talks in the present as he waits to discover in which direction a rather rudderless Blaugrana side will head from this point.
His apparent reluctance to extend a contract due to run until the summer of 2021 has generated another round of exit talk, with City one of few clubs that could afford to finance a deal if a door were to be opened.
Guardiola, though, is reluctant to be dragged into a debate regarding targets with the 2019-20 campaign still ongoing and still expects a compromise to be reached in Catalunya that will see an iconic figure remain in his current surroundings.
“I’m not going to speak about transfers until the end of the season,” said the former Barca boss.
“My wish is that Messi is going to stay in Barcelona.”
Guardiola offered a similar response when pressed on whether he intends to bring in another centre-half in the next window, with many having called for a suitable successor to former club captain Vincent Kompany to be found.
“At the end of the season. We still have incredible targets to fight for,” said the City coach.
The Blues remain in contention for FA Cup and Champions League crowns this season, having already collected Community Shield and Carabao Cup winners’ medals.
Guardiola is eager to see his side finish with a flourish, but accepts that they have fallen well short in a Premier League title race that has been dominated by record-setting champions Liverpool.
On the back of seeing City suffer a shock 1-0 defeat at Southampton last time out, Guardiola said: “When you lose nine games you cannot win the Premier League right now - maybe years ago.
“The champions have to score above 90 points, so when you lose nine games you cannot win the league.
“I was not able to solve the problem that we have had since the beginning.
“I remember the game against Tottenham at home, they had two shots on target and we shot more than 20 and we drew. It happened in the second game in the league and the last game against Southampton was similar. I was not able to change this dynamic.”