Manchester City can "reduce the gap" in class to Barcelona within five years, according to manager Manuel Pellegrini.
The Catalan club have beaten City four times in the Champions League in recent years and, unlike City, they remain in the hunt for their own domestic title.
"This season we are really seeing again the Barcelona we saw a few years ago," he said.
"But there are things we can try to do to reduce the gap. I'm sure we're going to do it sooner than five years."
Chelsea replaced City as Premier League champions last weekend, with Pellegrini's side currently 13 points behind the Blues and in a fight with Arsenal to hold on to second spot. Barcelona lead the Spanish La Liga by two points.
The Chilean added that in order to reach the level of Barca they need a player like their forward Lionel Messi - who has scored 53 goals in all competitions this season.
He added: "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."