Lionel Messi To Manchester City? Barcelona President Tells Pep Guardiola To Forget Bid

The confirmation that Pep Guardiola will replace Manuel Pellegrini as the manager of Manchester City at the end of the current season has immediately led to fevered speculation over who the Spaniard might purchase and bring to the Etihad Stadium.

Over the course of his managerial career with FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Guardiola has worked with some of the best soccer players in recent history. The cream of this crop of athletes is undoubtedly Lionel Messi, with Guardiola having been integral in developing and honing the skills of the diminutive Argentinian.

The news that Pep Guardiola will soon be manager at Manchester City, a club that has previously proven that it's more than willing to splash millions of dollars on brand new players, instantly led to speculation and rumors that he could target Messi as a marquee purchase.

However, Barcelona's president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, has now come out and reassured the club's supporters that Lionel Messi isn't going anywhere, while also insisting that even the rest of Barcelona's stellar roster aren't going anywhere too.

According to 90 Minutes, Bartomeu explained, "We know Messi could earn more money in other teams, or Neymar, Busquets, Gerard Pique, or Luis Suarez. Neymar, for example, when he came to Barcelona, had better offers from other teams. Suarez also had better offers."

"But they decided to come to Barcelona because I think this club attracts players, because we are more than a club," Bartomeu continued. "We are confident because we know our players are very happy in our club, in our city. They enjoy sport, their profession, and they are in a group."

"So we are very confident those players are not moving, taking decisions because of money," which then led Bartomeu to bring up home Lionel Messi won't be transferring away from Barcelona at any point in the near future. "Messi said a few days ago, 'Barcelona will be the only European club that I play for.' So if someone is interested in Messi, forget it. He said this. I didn't say it. He said this."

FC Barcelona are currently in imperious form in La Liga. On Sunday they recorded yet another victory, defeating Las Palmas by two goals to one to extend their lead at the top of the table to nine points. Goals from Luis Suarez, whose strike was his 25th of the season, and Neymar ensured victory for Barcelona, who were pegged back when they 1-0 up by a Da Silva strike.

While it was far from pretty, Real Madrid's draw on Sunday afternoon meant that Barcelona ended the day nine points ahead of their bitter rivals. Atletico Madrid are also 9 points behind Barcelona too, having played a game less though.

Barcelona are also now into the semi-finals of the Copa Del Rey, while they face Arsenal in the Champions League Round Of 16 on Tuesday too. Alongside Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, Barcelona are the favorites to once again claim the Champions League, which they won last year after defeating Juventus in the final in Berlin. If Barcelona do win the Champions League for the second year in a row they'll become the first team to defend the trophy since the competition was relaunched in 1992.

[Image via Getty/Michael Steele/Staff]