Pellegrini dismisses Messi rumours
Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has dismissed "rumours" that the club could attempt to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.
Messi's future at Barca has been the subject of recent speculation despite the Argentinian's hero status at the Nou Camp and his phenomenal goalscoring record.
The 27-year-old scored a hat-trick against Sevilla last weekend to become the all-time leading goalscorer in La Liga history.
Messi has been at Barcelona since the age of 13 but uncertainty stems from some fairly equivocal comments he made in the Argentinian media and 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.
The fact Messi trained at the Barclays Premier League champions' facilities with Argentina prior to last week's friendly with Portugal at Old Trafford also added fuel to speculation linking him to the club.
But Pellegrini said: "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."
Pellegrini was speaking at a press conference at the Etihad Stadium to preview this week's Champions League clash against Bayern Munich.
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."
Bayern are another club that have been linked with Messi but their former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola would like to see him stay with the Catalan giants.
Messi produced some of his greatest football under Guardiola, with the pair winning three La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues together.
But Guardiola, speaking in Manchester ahead of the City game, said: "I hope that Messi will end his career with Barcelona, because he has given so much to the club and he loves the club."
Of Messi's latest record, Guardiola said: "He is only 27 years old and he has already beaten the record. His record will not last for 60 years, but 600 years."