Lionel Messi hails 'special' Pep Guardiola after working with him at Barcelona

Lionel Messi praises the coaching of Pep Guardiola and fellow former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique: "Having them so close together made me improve so much in a footballing sense and in terms of tactical awareness"

Lionel Messi would be reunited with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City
Image: Lionel Messi has hailed Pep Guardiola as a 'special' coach

Lionel Messi considers himself lucky to have worked under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and says the current Manchester City manager offers "something special" as a coach.

Messi was a mainstay of Guardiola's Barcelona side that won 14 major titles between 2008 and 2012 and has been linked with a switch to City, most recently during the summer transfer window.

The 33-year-old is into the final few months of his current contract with the Catalan giants and speculation continues about whether the pair could eventually be reunited.

"He (Guardiola) has something special about him. I don't know," Messi told Spanish television channel La Sexta.

"He makes you see things in a certain way in terms of how he prepares for games, both defensively and going forward.

"He could tell you exactly how the match is going and how you have to attack to win."

Talk of Messi and Guardiola joining forces again was also fuelled by Guardiola's new deal that ties him to City until the end of the 2022/23 season.

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Pep Guardiola with Lionel Messi in 2011 1:04
Pep Guardiola says he wants to see Lionel Messi finish his career at Barcelona because of his own strong bond with the Spanish club

But Guardiola has said he would like Messi to finish his career at Barcelona, the club where the Argentine has spent his whole career, recently scoring a world record-breaking 644th goal for the club.

Messi, whose long-term future at the Nou Camp remains uncertain, credits Guardiola and Luis Enrique, who coached Barcelona from 2014 to 2017, with improving him as a player.

"I was unlucky enough to be coached by Guardiola and Luis Enrique for such a long time - the two best coaches," Messi added in an ironic tone.

"Having them so close together made me improve so much in a footballing sense and in terms of tactical awareness."

Messi and Guardiola enjoyed a successful partnership at Barcelona where they won 14 major titles
Image: Messi and Guardiola enjoyed a successful partnership at Barcelona where they won 14 major titles together

Barcelona currently sit fifth in La Liga under first-year coach Ronald Koeman, with the team undergoing a transition.

Messi will be absent when Barcelona face Eibar on Tuesday after being granted extra time off by the club over the Christmas period.

The forward returned to Argentina last week and has been given permission to remain in his homeland for a few more days.

Barcelona have said he will return to training after the Eibar game and will be available for their La Liga trip to Huesca.

It will be the third game Messi has been rested for in the last month. He also sat out their trips to Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros in the Champions League.

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