It’s been four years since Pep Guardiola left Barcelona, a club which brought him many fond memories.
As a player, he won La Liga six times and the European Cup once. The success continued when he became Barcelona’s manager - three more La Liga titles arrived at the Camp Nou, as well as a couple of Champions League trophies.
Barcelona’s success has continued under Luis Enrique, yet fans of the Spanish champions will never forgot what Guardiola did for the club.
He will return to Catalonia tomorrow as Manchester City come up against Lionel Messi and co. Given that this fixture could quite easily be the final, it’s with mixed feelings that they meet in the group stage.
There are so many storylines. Guardiola’s comeback; City’s attempts to prove they can compete with the best; Messi versus his friend, Sergio Aguero. Hopefully it lives up to the billing.
Guardiola spoke to the media ahead of the contest, admitting he won’t change his philosophy for what he knows will be a tough game.
“I would like to defend well and attack well but to change the way you think, the way you believe in playing football, it’s impossible,” he said, per City’s website.
“The players aren’t going to believe me (if I do that).”
Guardiola: I didn't call Messi
The 45-year-old’s mood quickly turned when he was quizzed about any Barcelona players he attempted to sign in the summer. There were several reports that Guardiola attempted to persuade some of his former players, including Messi, to join him in England.
“I have not called any Barcelona players,” he said, per Sport.
“I called Thiago [Alcantara] because my brother was his representative.
“This summer I didn’t call anyone. Not Messi, Busquets, Iniesta, Neymar, nobody. I called ter Stegen because he wasn’t happy not playing, but he decided to stay and later we spoke with Bravo.
“I didn’t call Messi. What I want is for him to end his career here. He will decide when to leave Barça.
“It’s not true I called any Barça players this summer. The people that have published these reports have a good relationship with president Bartomeu, maybe you can ask him [about it].”
Neymar to Bayern?
Guardiola, who joined City after spending three seasons as Bayern Munich manager, did admit that he told Neymar to sign for Barcelona in 2013 after the Brazilian’s father enquired to see whether Guardiola would have him in Germany.
“Three years ago I called Neymar to recommend he signed for Barça," Guardiola added. "Then his dad called me in New York to see about Bayern, but I said go to Barca.”