BARCELONA turned down a £225million Inter Milan bid for Lionel Messi in 2006, according to their former club president Joan Laporta.
The Catalan politician served as the club’s chief between 2003 and 2010, and is currently in the running to return to the position following Josep Maria Bartomeu’s resignation.
Messi was already hot property back in 2006Credit: AFP – Getty
Former chief Joan Laporta served as Barcelona’s president between 2003 and 2010Credit: EPA
And as Laporta, 58, steps up his campaign to return, he has inevitably been asked about the future of unhappy talisman Lionel Messi – leading to a stunning admission.
He told Radio Onda Cero: “Nobody who loves Barcelona can have doubts about Messi.
“I hope I can be named president and then I’ll speak with him.
“We rejected a €250m (£225m) offer coming from Inter in 2006. [Massimo] Moratti wanted to bring him to his club.”
The offer dwarfed what was the transfer world-record at the time, which was then the £46.6m that Real Madrid paid for Zinedine Zidane in 2001.
At the time, inspired by the likes of Javier Zanetti, Adriano and Luis Figo, Inter had just won Serie A – while Messi had picked up his first Champions League medal with Barca.
The Argentine, now 33, has gone on to pick up three more – but not since 2015.
And Laporta has outlined his plan to return the club to former glories, starting by sorting out their ailing finances.
The transfer record was previously held by Zinedine Zidane at £46.6mCredit: AFP
He continued: “We have a plan to recover the dramatic economic situation of the club.
“We can’t fix the world but we can make it a better place and we want to do it through hard work, passion and love.
“We want to bring happiness to people, it’s not an electoral promise. It’s an ethical, civic, moral commitment.”
Key to restoring the feel-good factor at Barca will be getting Messi back onside, with the frustrated six-time Ballon d’Or winner out of contract in the summer, having tried to leave this year.
Fans have picked up on the superstar’s ‘lonely’ body language – while Manchester City privately believe that they are in pole position to reunite Pep Guardiola with his best-ever player next season.
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.