Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola “doesn’t really need” Lionel Messi and should be prioritising further defensive additions over putting a reunion with a Barcelona superstar in place, says Emile Mpenza.
A move to the Etihad Stadium for a six-time Ballon d’Or winner continues to be mooted.
City were considered to be leading the chase for a much sought-after signature once Messi aired a desire to leave Camp Nou over the summer.
Exit doors were soon shut off in Catalunya, but a mercurial Argentine is only tied to a contract through to 2021.
He will be free to speak with his many suitors from January, with City admitting to having the funds in place if Guardiola wanted a deal to be discussed.
Mpenza expects the former Barca boss to work with Messi again at some stage in the future, but feels that will happen in MLS as adding another diminutive forward to their books makes no sense for City.
The ex-Blues striker told the Manchester Evening News: “I think that with all the defensive problems Guardiola has, he doesn’t really need someone like Messi.
“He should sort the leaky defence out first. [Vincent] Kompany has left a huge hole at the heart of the defence and City are yet to find the stability they had when Kompany was running the backline.
“It’s a tall order to fill Vincent’s shoes and what’s the point of signing Messi with all the issues they have at the back?
“They have enough players in his position like [Riyad] Mahrez and [Sergio] Aguero. If they sign Messi that would be too many players for the same position and cause problems.
“I believe that he will link up with Pep Guardiola again at some point in his career, but not at City itself but rather for their partner club New York City FC.
“Guardiola has managed in three of the best European leagues such as La Liga, the Premier League and Bundesliga with only Serie A missing. For me MLS is his next stop and he will take Messi with him there.”
Messi has been quiet on his future plans since revealing that he will be honouring the final year of his contract at Barca, with the 33-year-old expected to have a number of options to consider at the turn of the year.