Agence France Presse cited a report from Mundo Deportivo, which earlier this week quoted Mubarak on his previous efforts to reunite Pep Guardiola with his old Barca charge: "We asked Guardiola to talk to him, we offered him triple the salary he has at Barcelona, but he never accepted."
However, City issued a response to the remarks, which they say aren't genuine: "We deny the veracity of these quotes."
Goal's Sam Lee explained how this situation has snowballed since earlier this week, when Mubarak was a guest at a recent Q&A event. When asked which player he most regretted not signing in his decade owning Manchester City, he laughed and replied "Messi."
Lee provided a video of the event in question, Mubarak's response and further clarification that Guardiola did not attempt to persuade the Argentinian:
If the claims were genuine, it would mean City were prepared to pay the five-time Ballon d'Or winner more than £1 million per week, which would easily make him the highest earner in the sport—and then some.
Instead, Messi penned a new contract at the Camp Nou in November 2017 and is committed to the Blaugrana until the summer of 2021, when he'll turn 34.
It appears City are eager to distance themselves from pandering to Barcelona. Guardiola had his biggest successes in his native Catalonia, and it's clear Barcelona's model has been partially replicated in Manchester, but the club is becoming a worldly force in its own right.
That being said, City are still missing certain keys, and Guardiola couldn't help but be complimentary when asked in May if he could win the UEFA Champions League without Messi, via Goal:
City's spending has skyrocketed since City Football Group—a branch of Abu Dhabi United Group—took them over in 2008, but there are still certain players firmly out of their reach.
Messi may well be one, but City refute claims they tested the waters in 2016.