Lionel Messi is not in Manchester City’s sights now that the Argentine striker is leaving Barcelona, but the Premier League champion would be interested in Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.
“Right now it’s not in our thoughts,” the former Barcelona player and manager told reporters when asked about any possible interest in Messi.
Guardiola was speaking a day after City completed the signing of midfielder Jack Grealish from Aston Villa for a Premier League record 100 million pounds ($139 million).
Messi’s shock departure from Barcelona, for financial reasons, was also announced on Thursday.
Guardiola said he would have loved, as a fan, for Messi to see out his career at Barcelona but the club needed to be sustainable.
He hailed Messi as “the most extraordinary player I have seen in my life”.
The manager said the Grealish deal came off because City had made almost 60 million from the sale and loan of young players and could activate a release clause in his contract.
“When you sell for 60 million, you can afford 100 million. Otherwise it could not have been possible,” said the Spaniard.
He confirmed City’s interest in signing England captain Kane but said nothing could happen without Tottenham’s agreement.
“He plays for Tottenham Hotspur and if Tottenham don’t want to negotiate, it’s finished,” said the manager.
“If they are open to negotiate, of course many clubs in the world would want to try and sign him. We are not an exception.”
“Harry Kane is an exceptional and extraordinary striker, no doubt about that, of course we are very interested in him but he’s a Tottenham player and if they don’t want to negotiate – nothing more to say. If they want it, we will try.”
Kane, who has a contract with the north London club until 2024, is reportedly keen to leave after another trophy-less campaign.
New Tottenham Hotspur manager Nuno Espirito Santo has said Kane is key to the club’s plans for this season.
Guardiola said several players, including Portuguese winger Bernardo Silva, wanted to leave City but were under contract.
“We are open to discuss absolutely everything but it depends on them. Otherwise, they will continue training really well and they will stay here, and I will decide if they play or don’t play.
“The players who want to leave know the door is open because we don’t want anyone here unsatisfied but they have to bring someone (an offer). Otherwise, they will stay here.”
City plays FA Cup winner Leicester City in the pre-season Community Shield at Wembley on Saturday.