Manuel Pellegrini says Manchester City need their own Lionel Messi

Manuel Pellegrini has said Manchester City need to find their own Lionel Messi as they attempt to reach the level of Barcelona, with the manager suggesting Sergio Agüero can help the quest next season by improving further.


This article titled “” was written by Jamie Jackson, for The Guardian on Friday 8th May 2015 21.30 UTC

Manuel Pellegrini has said Manchester City need to find their own Lionel Messi as they attempt to reach the level of Barcelona, with the manager suggesting Sergio Agüero can help the quest next season by improving further.

City were knocked out of the Champions League 3-1 on aggregate by Barcelona, who dismantled Bayern Munich 3-0 in Wednesday’s semi-final first leg with Messi in breathtaking form, scoring twice.

Asked how long City or any English cub may take to close the gap to Barça, Pellegrini said: “First we need to find another Messi. He makes the difference, like [Cristiano] Ronaldo at Real Madrid. The project at this club is to improve every year, to grow every year as a club, in all senses, in every department, young players, the first team.

“It’s not easy to compare the whole history. This club in the last seven years has [had] the amount of money you need to compete with Barça, Madrid, Bayern, Manchester United. The most important teams in the world can spend more money and have the best players. Maybe a lot of people are nervous because you don’t do it in three, four, five years. All these projects need a long time and every year you must show that you are growing and improving.”

Agüero is the Premier League’s leading scorer with 22 goals, despite struggling with injuries. “We have a very important player in Kun and we also have other good players,” said the manager. “They [Barcelona] do too. It’s not only Messi, they have [Luis] Suárez, Neymar, [Sergio] Busquets, [Andrés] Iniesta. Real Madrid and Bayern can say six good players. It’s important for Kun the same way to improve every year, to play all the games. Maybe next year we’ll see another Kun [Agüero] because he is working, growing every year. I hope he will be as important here as those players are at Barça.”

Pellegrini believes that, despite Messi’s presence, Barcelona can be caught. “Last year Barça didn’t win any titles. He’s an important player but it’s not just him. He needs them [his team-mates] around him to be an important team. This season we are seeing again the Barça we saw a few years ago. But there are a lot of things we can try to reduce the distance between our team and them. I am sure we are going to do it more soon then five years.

“I said when we played against Barcelona that we were very unlucky, that both years we had to play against the best team in the world with Messi included. I think what Barcelona did against Bayern is no surprise, certainly not to me. We tried to play the games that we played against them in the best way. We were unlucky to draw Barcelona. After that we had to play three of the games with a player less for an important number of minutes. In the last game we lost 1-0 and we missed a penalty but it means nothing.

“At the time I said they were the best team in the world and now they are demonstrating that I was not so wrong.”

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