Media Watch

'Pep's vision changed my career' says Messi

Lionel Messi has revealed how a positional change by Pep Guardiola transformed him into the world’s best player.

And he also names a former City defender as his toughest opponent – but it might not be who you are thinking of right now…

Let’s begin with Messi citing Pep’s knack of seeing players in different roles than the one he had inherited them in and how the Argentine genius went to another level at Barca under the Catalan’s tutelage.

DAZN: ‘Pep changed everything’ says Messi

In a rare interview, he told DAZN: ‘I remember that it was a surprise for me, because I was called up the day before the game, was made to go to Guardiola’s office at the Ciutat Esportiva, and I was told that he had been watching Madrid’s games a lot, as he did with every opponent.

‘He had been talking with Tito Vilanova and they had thought about me playing as a false nine. He was going to put Samuel [Eto'o] and Thierry Henry on the outside, and I was going to play as the false centre forward.

READ: City DNA: The Kippax

‘I wasn’t going to stay there, but rather come out and join up with the central midfield. The idea was that Madrid’s centre backs would follow me out, and the two fast wingers that we had would go around the back.

‘In fact, one of Henry’s goals was like that. It was a surprise for us and for Madrid. I remember that we had a lot of possession, and we always had an extra man in the middle of the park.

‘I’d never played as a centre forward, but I knew that position because it meant coming through from deep to get forward, without being a static number 9. It wasn’t a big change for me. I’d been playing on the outside for years, and so I knew what that position was about.’

Mirror: ‘Ex- City defender was toughest’ says Messi

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has labelled a former Manchester City defender as the toughest opponent he has faced during his illustrious career.

Since making his debut for the Spanish giants back in 2004, the Argentina international has regularly locked horns with some of the world's best defenders.

The 32-year-old has enjoyed plenty of battles with Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos in El Clasico, while the likes of Nemanja Vidic and Thiago Silva have also sought to find a way to stop Messi.

But when asked in an extensive interview with DAZN about the toughest opponent he had faced, the Barca legend opted for a somewhat left-field choice.

‘I don’t remember [who the toughest man marker has been], truly. The one from Girona [Pablo Maffeo], maybe. That was exaggerated,’ the 32-year-old told DAZN's La Liga show.

Ex-City defender Maffeo came up against Messi during two loan spells away from the Etihad Stadium at Girona, who are part-owned by the City Football Group.


Sports Witness: City close in on Orihuela?

“The second a young player shows a flash of talent; Manchester City are usually there quick as a flash and planning for them to move to the Etihad.

“There’s a long list of examples to prove this, and Nacional youngster Renzo Orihuela is the latest to add to the list according to El Observador.

“They report that City are keen on the young defender and have already opened negotiations about a move.

“According to the newspaper, Manchester City have offered to buy 80% of the 18-year-old’s registration for a fee of $1.5m.

“Negotiations are firmly underway between them and Nacional and, should they reach an agreement, he would stay with them for the next six months before leaving for England.

“City’s interest is nothing new, with El Observador claiming that they have been following Orihuela for the last year.”


Sheffield Star: Blades aspire to City class

Reaction from City’s 4-0 Continental Cup win over Sheffield United..

“It was to their credit, given the experience at the visitors’ disposal and money which has been lavished on Nick Cushing’s team, that Carla Ward’s side were able to keep City at bay until conceding twice during the dying embers of the first-half.

“So it was to their credit, given the effort they had expended repelling City’s attacks, that the second did not turn out to be any more profitable for the opposition.

“Particularly when Jade Pennock, the United centre-forward, put the match into context.

‘I’ve been working all day, I drove here through rush hour and had one banana,’ she said afterwards. “So I’m out on my feet.

‘I’m a sports development officer, based in Leeds, so I’ve been coaching. City’s preparation was probably a little bit different. So to hold them as long as we did was good, to be fair. In the end, we probably just ran out of legs.

‘It was great, to be out there against some of the best players in the world. I think the team they put out showed they knew we might pose them a problem or too. We can take a lot away with us.’

More media gossip and rumour tomorrow…