Manchester City's only hope of reeling in the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid is to find another Lionel Messi, manager Manuel Pellegrini has claimed.
As Barcelona look to be on the verge of reaching their fourth UEFA Champions League final in the past 10 years - the Catalan club have won the previous three - City seem unable to make a dent on Europe's premier club competition.
And for any City fans hoping their club can match Barca - or Champions League holders Real - Pellegrini has a sobering take on his side's position in the European pecking order.
"First we need to find another Messi," the Chilean said.
"He makes the difference, like [Cristiano] Ronaldo at Real Madrid."
But although the likelihood of finding another Messi or Ronaldo seems fanciful, Pellegrini remains confident City can eventually become one of the most successful clubs in Europe.
The 61-year-old simply wants patience from all concerned.
City have played in the Champions League in the past four seasons - they were eliminated in the group stages in 2011-12 and 2012-13 before exiting after the round of 16 in 2013-14 and this term.
"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, the first team," Pellegrini said.
"It's not easy to compare the whole history. This club in the last seven years has [had] the amount of money you need to compete with Barca, Madrid, Bayern [Munich], Manchester United. The most important teams in the world 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 show that you are growing and improving."
Barca have eliminated City from the Champions League in the past two seasons.
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