Lionel Messi y Pep Guardiola They were part of one of the best teams in football history, a Barcelona that reaped success and praise like no other, and in which they achieved the most, one as a footballer and the other as a manager until its dissolution in 2012. That perfect partnership was close to repeating itself.
The Spanish journalist Martin Perarnauwho acted as biographer following the career of the culé coach, recounting his beginnings, his time in Germany with Bayern Munich and his current situation in Manchester City, published a new book in which it reveals an unknown conversation from 2020 between Guardiola and Messi. There, according to what he says, the Argentine approached his old mentor about the possibility of leaving Barcelona and going with him to the English team.
“God save Pep” is Perarnau’s latest work, focused on the manager’s achievement in English football, which this year saw him lift the first Champions League of the Citizens. In one of the chapters of the book, Pep’s dialogue with Leo is transcribed verbatim, the role of Only Aguero in the talk and a secret meeting between the two that took place in the city of Barcelona.
On August 14, 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, Barcelona suffered one of the most painful defeats in its history. It was a 2-8 defeat against Bayern Munich and elimination in a single match in that Champions League that was decided in an empty stadium, in Lisbon. With Messi on the field, that win also marked a before and after for the most glorious cycle of the Blaugrana club. And it also marked Leo.
Messi and the worst defeat of his career, against Bayern Munich. Photo: EFE/EPA/Manu Fernandez.
According to Perarnau’s work, Messi contacted his friend Kun, who was then playing for City. “Pay attention, two things can happen. Leo has asked me how long Pep has a contract with City,” is the text that the journalist attributes to the former Argentine scorer.
Guardiola was also beaten: his team was a bomb in the Premier but did not make a foothold in Europe, being eliminated by Olympique Lyon. According to the book, Pep landed at Barcelona’s El Prat airport and received another message himself: “Hello Pep, how are you?” The one who spoke to him was Messi.
Guardiola and Messi. Photo: AFP PHOTO /FCBARCELONA/ MIGUEL RUIZ.
The next day they met at Pep’s house, and Leo told him face to face that he wanted to leave the club, upset with its management but especially with the then president. Joseph Maria Bartomeu, of whom he felt “deceived and betrayed.” Those were the days of total crisis between Messi and Barça, with the famous burofax sent by the footballer to the Catalan institution, informing his desire to be free when his contract ended.
“It rains a lot in Manchester,” they say Pep warned Leo, before starting a talk that lasted for hours and that, despite the good intentions of both, finally came to nothing. Of course, Perarnau recreated one of the sections of the conversation, which shows the code of respect and professionalism that united them both.
Guardiola:-In Manchester we train very hard…
Messi:-I will train hard, I’m not worried.
Guardiola:-And I continue making long tactical talks. Maybe you’ll get bored…
Messi:-I’ll hold on. I will put up with everything you do.
Guardiola:-Leo, we have grown older. Maybe we can’t stand each other anymore.
Messi:-Pep, I just want to break it.
The continuity of this story is known. Leo extended his discomfort for another year in Barcelona, from where he left in tears and headed towards Paris, on the eve of his happiest stage with the Argentine National Team, which was crowned by lifting the World Cup in Qatar. Fate also did justice to Pep, who this year was reunited with the Champions trophy in Istanbul.
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