As soon as he was unveiled as manager of Manchester City, it was almost inevitable that Pep Guardiola would be confronted by suggestions of him bringing Lionel Messi to the English Premier League.
The Catalan coach was only a few months into his tenure at City when it was suggested he had been on the phone to the Argentine, trying to persuade him to join him in Manchester.
“I did not call Messi because what I want is for him to play for Barcelona for many years,” Guardiola said in response. “I hope he ends his career [at Barcelona], but maybe one day he will decide that he wants to play somewhere else.
“Maybe he will want his kids to learn English, I don’t know. And if that happens, which I hope it won’t, then there will be a list of four, five or six clubs who will want to sign him.”
That was October 2016, and though even back then there were always noises that Messi might leave his beloved Barcelona, it always looked unlikely that anything would happen beyond those initial rumblings and occasional grumblings.