Manuel Pellegrini has dismissed reports claiming Manchester City could attempt to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.
Messi’s future with the Spanish giants has been the subject of recent speculation despite the Argentine’s hero status at the Nou Camp and his phenomenal goalscoring record.
The 27-year-old scored a hat-trick against Sevilla on Saturday to become the all-time leading goalscorer in La Liga history with a haul of 253 goals.
Messi has been at Barcelona since the age of 13 but recently told Argentinian media that his future at the club was “complicated” while he is also involved in an ongoing dispute with the Spanish authorities over tax issues.
City are one of few clubs in the world with the finance and status to attempt to lure Messi, who recently fuelled speculation when he trained at the club’s facilities with Argentina prior to last week's friendly with Portugal at Old Trafford.
However, Pellegrini dashed City supporters’ hopes when asked about the 27-year-old four-time world player of the year at Monday’s press conference ahead this week’s clash with Bayern Munich.
Pellegrini answered: "The rumours are only rumours.
"What he did was exceptional and there are few players that can reach his level. The record he has got reflects how important he is for Barcelona."
Messi's international team-mate Martin Demichelis, the City defender, was also present but he too downplayed reports linking the club with the Barcelona forward.
Demichelis said: "I am happy for his record. For me it is not a surprise any more, what he is doing.
"I don't think I should give an opinion about the rumours before such an important game."
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Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who has described Messi as “the greatest player in football history”, has also poured cold water on the claims.
"We'll have Leo here for many more years,” Bartomeu said on Sunday. “He is happy at Barcelona, where he has been for so many years, and he gets on well with his team-mates.
"He's concerned about non-sporting issues but the club is supporting him. People should speak to him about football rather than other things."
Watch Messi in action when Barcelona take on Apoel Nicosia in the Champions League on Tuesday live on Sky Sports 1 from 7:40pm