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Lionel Messi 'asked to leave Barcelona to join Manchester City'

Lionel Messi reportedly asked Barcelona to sanction a move to Manchester City last summer.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi reportedly asked the club to allow him to join Manchester City last summer, but he was later convinced to stay.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was linked with a world-record switch to the Etihad Stadium shortly after Pep Guardiola arrived as the North-West outfit's new manager.

Guardiola already has a relationship with Messi having coached him for four years at Camp Nou, but the speculation never materialised into a transfer.

According to Mundo Deportivo, though, Messi's desire to join City was real, and he had to be talked around by Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu and vice-president Jordi Mestre.

It is believed that an initial meeting with the footballer's father Jorge Messi in Miami did not convince the Argentine to stay, but a chat that lasted more than three hours with Messi at his home changed his mind.

Luis Suarez also reportedly did his bit by encouraging his teammate to stay at Camp Nou during various dinners between the pair.

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Barcelona's midfielder Andres Iniesta celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish Copa del Rey (King's Cup) semifinal first leg football match against Villarreal on February 11, 2015
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