LONDON • Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini yesterday shrugged off fresh speculation that the club are plotting a reunion of Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi at the Etihad Stadium.
According to reports in Spain, Guardiola has agreed to leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season and take over at City. The former Barcelona manager is in the third and final year of his contract with the German champions.
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge admitted on Thursday that they have yet to enter negotiations over extending his stay. He added that "players come, players go, and the same applies to coaches" and "nobody is irreplaceable".
Spanish radio station Cadena Cope reported that Guardiola has already made up his mind on his future and will succeed Pellegrini .
"Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season and will train Manchester City next season," read the report.
"Guardiola has decided on a change of scenery. He considers his time in Germany to end on June 30 after three seasons and to fulfil one of his wishes; to coach in England."
The report also claims that Pellegrini, who signed a two-year extension to his contract in August, will be allowed to leave his post a year early to make way for Guardiola. But the Chilean refused to confirm any speculation, including talk that City want Barcelona's star forward Messi.
"Every manager in the world would like Lionel Messi but I never talk about rumours," he told a press conference ahead of his side's Premier League clash with Southampton today.
On Guardiola, he added: "It's a rumour we've had the last two and a half seasons, so I don't have a problem with that at all."
Spanish football expert Guillem Balague, however, had no qualms about giving his take on the matter.
"If Manchester City are to appoint Pep Guardiola as their coach, could that have an influence on Messi's decision? Absolutely. But you have to say the only thing that is certain is that Messi is at Barcelona and he wants to stay at Barcelona," he said.
"It's not about money if he goes... But it will have something to do with the treatment he's getting in regard to the tax situation, which he thinks is unfair."
Meanwhile, Pellegrini will only be focused on the team he is still in charge of when City host Southampton today, hoping to bounce back from the 1-4 loss to Liverpool a week ago. THE GUARDIAN
MANCHESTER CITY V SOUTHAMPTON
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