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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi retirement will leave a hole in Barcelona - Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has said that Barcelona will no longer have the firepower they currently have once star forward Lionel Messi leaves the club.

The five-time World Player of the Year has been crucial to his team's success from the moment he made his professional debut, and his leadership has never been more obvious than it is this season. 

The Argentina star has scored 22 goals and set up 10 more in 25 league appearances this season to help the Blaugrana take a nine-point lead at the top of La Liga standings.

"When Leo Messi quits football there will probably be a huge sink-hole in Barcelona," Guardiola joked with RAC1 on Friday. "There won't be Trebles, but of course, if Barcelona keeps doing things well, they might be able to fight against Bayern Munich."

Messi thrived under Guardiola at Camp Nou when the club won three La Liga titles and two Champions League crowns.

Guardiola made his comments during a radio tribute to former Barcelona coach Johan Cruyff, who died on Thursday after a battle against lung cancer.

"Messi is the [Barcelona] player who runs the least and in that he was Cruyff's best pupil," the current Bayern Munich coach said.

The 45-year-old Guardiola, who takes over at Manchester City on July 1, won two Bundesliga titles in his two full seasons as Bayern boss and is on course for a third this this term.

Manchester City, however, believe Messi would join Guardiola's new-look side if he ever leaves Barcelona, according to multiple reports in English newspapers.

Messi, however, has never indicated his desire to leave the Camp Nou after 15 successful years at the club.

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