Messi runs back into Pep’s arms!

PETE JENSON IN SPAIN: When Pep Guardiola quit as Barcelona boss in an emotional press conference in 2012, the room was full of his most important players, but Lionel Messi was nowhere to be seen. Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique were among those looking on from the front row as Guardiola stepped down as coach but Messi, then 24, had been too cut-up to attend. Messi has missed Guardiola, top right, ever since and the feeling has been mutual. But Guardiola has always dismissed the idea that Messi could end up with him at Manchester City. As recently as last February, he declared: ‘He is a player from Barcelona and he will stay there, that’s my wish for him.’ But underpinning that stance has always been the belief that Barcelona would never be so negligent as to allow him to leave. That is no longer the case. For the first time since the two parted company, the reunion is on.

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