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Messi to City is 'just rumours' - Pellegrini

ESPN staff
March 7, 2014
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Manuel Pellegrini has shrugged off speculation linking Manchester City with a summer bid for Lionel Messi.

Reports in Spain suggested that the League Cup winners will make an offer for Barcelona's record scorer but Pellegrini downplayed such talk.

"It's just rumours," he responded.

City, who are very unlikely to try and sign the four-time World Player of the Year, will face Messi at the Nou Camp on Wednesday and the Argentine scored the opening goal for Barcelona in their 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

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Pellegrini, who has continued to insist that a penalty should not have been awarded for Martin Demichelis' challenge on Messi, has received a two-match touchline ban from UEFA for his post-match complaints about referee Jonas Eriksson, with a further game suspended.

The City manager backtracked from his original criticisms when he said that Eriksson was not biased or unfit to referee the game because he normally officiates in the Swedish league, but it did not stop UEFA taking action against him and he will watch the second leg from the stands.

He added: "I don't think I deserve three games or two games. I said two days after [the Barcelona game] in my press conference that I was wrong in the way I did but I continue to say it was not a penalty and that it decided the game."

However, he has accepted the sanction, explaining: "I don't want to continue [to fight it] and if they decide that is the punishment for me, I will see what I am going to do in future."

Meanwhile, Pellegrini has denied that Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott are unhappy at City but said that giving the right-back a new contract is not important right now.

Neither Englishman has been a regular in the City side this season and centre-back Lescott is expected to leave in the summer when his contract expires.

And fellow defender Richards, who is out of contract in 2015, has only been given two league starts by Pellegrini, leading to suggestions he is considering leaving his only club.

But the City manager said: "I don't think they have any problems. They feel an important part of what we have done so far and they will be important in the future from now until the end of the season."

However, Pellegrini said he is not thinking about giving Richards a new deal, adding: "I can't answer now about that. He has one year more of contract here at the club so it is not important at this moment. The important thing is Wigan."

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