Man City boss Pep Guardiola backed by Soriano over Lionel Messi reports

Manchester City CEO Ferran Soriano has backed Pep Guardiola after the coach defended himself against reports in the Catalan media that he tried to tap up Lionel Messi and other Barcelona players in the summer.

Mundo Deportivo claimed Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez and Sergio Busquets were all contacted by City.

But former Barca boss Guardiola, speaking at a news conference ahead of his return to the Camp Nou in the Champions League on Wednesday, was adamant that was not the case.

Guardiola said he had been interested in Marc-Andre ter Stegen before eventually signing Claudio Bravo, but he suggested the journalist who asked the question should instead put it to Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who he said has a "good rapport" with the reporters who ran the original rumours.

Soriano, a former Barca employee who Mundo Deportivo said contacted Messi's entourage earlier this year, verified Guardiola's version of events and said the relationship between the two clubs was good.

"City didn't get in contact with any Barca players and we didn't make any offers," he told RAC1. "Our relationship with Barca is good. There are agents that call Barca saying they have an offer from City and then [Barca] call us to see if it's true and we deny it.

"It's what happened with Cesc [Fabregas] a few years ago. His agent came to us to try and do a deal and we advised Barcelona, although I still saw a front cover saying: 'Soriano after Cesc.' There were other times, too, but the relationship with Bartomeu is really good."

Guardiola did say he would be at the front of the queue if Messi one day decided he wanted a new challenge, but added that he hoped the 29-year-old would end his career with Barca.

Soriano echoed that sentiment while also saying City would be ready to pounce if the Argentina captain ever became available.

"The natural thing is that Messi ends his sporting career with Barcelona," he said.

"But if one day he call us, we'll pick up the phone and we'll immediately open the door [to him]. But no, we will not call him."