Lionel Messi has paid tribute to his former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola amid speculation that he will be reunited with the Catalan at Manchester City.
Messi put in a transfer request in the previous transfer window, an exit which was denied due to a disagreement over the validity of the clause in a rescheduled, coronavirus-blighted 2019/2020 season.
Messi was unwilling to force the issue in the courts and has since cut a frustrated figure at Barcelona, although his form has improved after some listless early showings.
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The 33-year-old forward gave an interview to LaSexta to be broadcast on Saturday evening, and he namechecked both Guardiola and Luis Enrique, another former Barca manager.
"Pep has something special. He makes you see things in one way: how he prepares for matches, defensively, how to attack... he told you exactly how the match was going to be, how you had to attack to win," Messi said to Jordi Evole during the interview.
"I was lucky, in quotation marks, to train under Guardiola and Luis Enrique, the two best. Having them made me grow a lot physically and mentally, and also the tactical wisdom they've taught me."
Guardiola was Messi’s coach between 2008 and 2012 before he left for a sabbatical, and then joined Bayern Munich. The pair won 14 trophies including La Liga and the Champions League. Enrique was manager from 2014 to 2017, bringing in another nine honours.
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The praise will do nothing to dampen speculation that Messi will entertain the offer of a pre-contract from City as a chance to play under Guardiola once again.
However Messi hinted that he was less desperate to leave in the near future.
"I'm fine today. It's true that I had a very bad time in the summer," Messi clarified.
"It came from before. What happened before the summer, the way the season ended, the burofax and all that... Then I dragged it with me a bit at the beginning of the season, but I'm fine today.
"I feel like seriously fighting for everything that's ahead of us. I feel excited. I know that the club is going through a difficult time, at the club and team level, and everything around Barcelona is difficult, but I am looking forward to it."
Interviewer Jordi Evole hinted that Messi could consider a move to David Beckham’s MLS franchise Inter Miami, saying when questioned, “Put on TV on the Sunday: but you aim very well.”