Pellegrini: City will rival Barca
Manuel Pellegrini believes Manchester City can reach the level of Barcelona within five years.
City need no reminding of the quality of the Spanish giants having been beaten by them four times in the Champions League over the past two seasons.
This year's losses in February and March were particularly one-sided and Barca again underlined their class on the highest stage with a stunning Lionel Messi-inspired defeat of Bayern Munich this week.
With City having laboured throughout the season and meekly surrendered their Barclays Premier League crown, the gulf between the two clubs seems huge.
But City have still come a long way in a relatively short period and manager Pellegrini has no doubt the ambitious club will eventually reach the European summit.
The Chilean said: "The project at this club is to improve every year, to grow every year as a club, in all senses, in every department, young players, first team.
"It's not easy to compare, not the whole history, but this club in the last seven years, has had the amount of money you need to compete with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern, Manchester United - the most important teams of the world that can spend more money and have the best players.
"Maybe a lot of people are nervous because you don't do it in three, four, five years. All these projects need a long time and every year you must demonstrate that you are growing and improving.
"This season we are really seeing again the Barcelona we saw a few years ago.
"But there is a lot of things we can try to reduce the distance between our team and them. I am sure we are going to do it sooner than five years."
Messi's virtuoso two-goal performance in Barca's midweek success has again seen him hailed as the greatest player in the world, a title he has frequently laid claim to over the past decade.
Pellegrini feels City need a star player who can have a similar effect on his team as Messi does at the Nou Camp, but he believes there is much more to Barca than the Argentinian.
He said: "First we need to find another Messi! He makes the difference, without doubt, like (Cristiano) Ronaldo at Real Madrid.
"But last year Barcelona didn't win any titles. Messi is an important player but it's not just Messi. You need a lot of things around him to be an important team.
"I said when we played against Barcelona we were very unlucky, that both years we had to play against the best team in the world, with Messi included.
"I think what Barcelona did against Bayern is no surprise for anyone, and not to me. Now they are demonstrating that I was not so wrong in what I said."
Pellegrini hopes that City's star striker Sergio Aguero can be that man.
Aguero has again been outstanding at times this season, scoring 28 goals for City - but injuries have again prevented him realising his full potential.
Pellegrini said: "It's important for Kun to improve every year, to play all the games. Maybe next year we'll see another Kun because he is working differently, he is growing every year.
"I hope he will be as important here as those players are at their teams."