BARCELONA, Spain — Pep Guardiola has admitted he tried to sign Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the summer before eventually signing his teammate Claudio Bravo.
But the Manchester City boss denied reports that he had tried to take four of his former Barca players to the Etihad in the summer, including Lionel Messi.
Guardiola wanted a new goalkeeper at the Etihad Stadium, who was comfortable with the ball at his feet and looked to the Nou Camp where Ter Stegen and Bravo were sharing their duties as a No. 1.
Ter Stegen was Barcelona’s cup keeper, featuring in the Blaugrana‘s Champions League and Copa del Rey campaigns while Bravo played in La Liga matches.
The German international had previously indicated splitting time with Bravo was not in his best interest, but decided to stay with the Catalan club and is now fist choice for European and La Liga games after the Chilean keeper’s exit.
“I knew that [Ter Stegen] wanted to play all the time and I got in touch with him,” Guardiola told a news conference ahead of City’s Champions League with Barca on Wednesday.
“We needed a keeper like Claudio or Ter Stegen — we got Claudio and Ter Stegen stayed.”
However, the Catalan insisted he had not tried to sign any other players from the club he managed for four years, despite reports in Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo claiming he wanted Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Sergio Busquets.
Guardiola said he hopes that Messi plays his entire career at Barcelona, but said there would be huge interest from the Premier League if he ever considered a move to England.
“I didn’t call any players on the phone — there are those that are lost before they’ve even started,” Guardiola said.
“This summer I never called Messi, Neymar, Busquets, Suarez or anybody. If ever I have called a Barca player it is because he doesn’t get playing time. And look, if I did, I would be well within my rights because Barca calls City players.
“I never called Messi — What I most want is for him to play here and finish his career here.
“But maybe he wants to go somewhere else, maybe he wants his kids to speak English.
“If it happens there would be a list of six, seven or eight clubs, who want to sign him and it will be down to Messi where he wants to go.
“I am lucky to have the chance to sit down and spell this all out today. If you don’t believe me, those who have published this and have a good relationship with [Barcelona president Josep] Bartomeu, they should call him and ask him themselves.”
Jonathan is ESPN FC’s Manchester City correspondent. Follow him @jonnysmiffy.
Pep: I never tried to take Messi to City – ESPN FC