Asked about the one player City would have loved to have signed, Al Mubarak replied: "Messi".
Messi's current deal at the Nou Camp runs out in 2021 at the age of 33 and might not be keen to move to another European club as well as returning to Argentina after his recent experiences with the Albiceleste.
Maradona, who along with Brazil's Pele is widely held to be one of the best players of all time, said Messi was one player at his club Barcelona and another with the national side. "I gave my vote to Claudio Tapia [AFA president], who knows nothing of football, but he betrayed me because he hired Jorge Sampaoli, who is not good enough for Argentina".
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City's interest in Messi dates back before Guardiola's time, but the Spaniard tried to use his influence to lure the Argentina superstar to England in 2016.
"Messi's a great player, but he's not a leader", the Dorados coach told La Ultima Palabra Mexico.
"For me it's hard to talk, but it's pointless wanting to make a man who goes to the bathroom 20 times before a match into the leader".
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Messi, 31, has claimed every possible honour with Barcelona and has won the FIFA World Player of the Year award five times.
The 31-year-old Argentina global has been repeatedly linked with a move to the Etihad since Pep Guardiola was appointed manager in the summer of 2016.
"I wouldn't call him up right now, but never say never", he said.
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A sterner test awaits on Tuesday, when they face Brazil in Saudi Arabia without Messi.