The prolific attacker no longer has any special bond with the current Bayern boss, while he has stressed his feud with Luis Enrique has been resolved
Barcelona star Lionel Messi has insisted that he no longer has a special relationship with former mentor Pep Guardiola ahead of the first leg of the Champions League semi-final tie with Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
The 27-year-old developed into one of the best players in the world under Guardiola’s guidance between 2008 and 2012, winning numerous individual and team accolades in the process including two Champions League titles and three Liga crowns.
Messi was the star man for Guardiola’s team, but the attacker has made it clear that he does not have a special bond with the current Bayern boss any more.
“We had a great time when Pep was here. We won a lot of titles and I grew a lot – that was the time when I grew most as a footballer,” Messi said at a press conference.
“We had a fantastic relationship when he was here. I have seen him a few times since he left, but we don’t have any kind of relationship now.
“Guardiola knows us, he knows us all well. We were lucky enough to win a lot of titles with him. Based on what Guardiola meant to the club in his time as coach, I think he will get a good welcome. He gave a lot to the club and he is from here, but I think the fans will support the club and want us to win the game.”
The forward then went on to stress that he does not have any problems with Luis Enrique after falling out with the club’s head coach earlier this season.
The Argentina international had a heated argument with the 44-year-old during a training session at the start of 2015 and was then benched for the Liga match against Real Sociedad. Their relationship consequently seemed to be beyond repair, but the prolific attacker has stressed the situation has been resolved.
“I have said before that what happened happened, but since then there haven’t been any problems at all.
“How does Luis Enrique compare to Guardiola? Some things are different. Pep has his way of doing things. Both coaches treat the players well and treat them equally.”
Barcelona were beaten 7-0 by Bayern on aggregate when they last met in the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2012-13, but Messi has stressed there will be no repeat of that tie.
“It is an important game for everything that it represents, it’s a semi-final. We remember the game two years ago of course, but this is a completely different game to the one two years ago.
“I don’t know who the favourite is. I don’t think there is one. Both sides have great players that are used to playing these games. Of course, it’s important to get a good result at home. We always play to win and we want to go into the return leg with a good result.”
Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have already scored over 100 goals in all competitions for Barcelona this term, but the Argentine does not see “MSN” as the best attack he has ever been part of.
“I have been lucky enough to play with some great players. I enjoy the players I’m playing with today, but I can’t say if it’s the best front three. We understand each other well on and off the pitch, but I have had great team-mates alongside me in attack in other forward lines as I have today.
“When you have players of the characteristics of Neymar and Luis, that makes things a lot easier. We have a good relationship on and off the pitch. Luis adapted really quickly to the dressing room and that has helped things work out well for us.”