There have been rumours that the pair's relationship has become increasingly strained in recent months and it was reported over the weekend that the Rosario native was persuaded by his compatriot to hug his coach after netting his fourth goal in Guardiola's final game at Camp Nou.
However, Messi, who has previously had to explain why he failed to show up for the press conference at which Guardiola announced his decision to resign, insists that his respect and admiration for the former Blaugrana midfielder remains as strong as ever.
"I felt the need to embrace Pep to thank him for all he has done for me," the three-time Ballon d'Or winner wrote on Tencent Weibo. "Guardiola has been important in my career."
Guardiola's final Liga game in charge of Barca comes against Real Betis this weekend, but his last official outing will be the Copa del Rey final showdown with Athletic Bilbao at the Vicente Calderon on May 25.
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