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Messi was 'one centimetre' away from joining rivals Espanyol, reveals Mauricio Pochettino

4.86K   //    25 Jan 2016, 15:45 IST
Barcelona's Leo Messi was very close to joining rivals, Espanyol

Five-time FIFA Ballon D'Or winner and Barcelona living-legend, Leo Messi, nearly moved to rivals, Espanyol, reveals current Tottenham Hotspurs manager Mauricio Pochettino. 

The Argentine, an Espanyol legend himself, was a player back when Messi reportedly nearly joined the club. "We were close at Espanyol to signing Lionel Messi but this was true. A centimetre (away), unbelievable but this was true.

Pochettino – who went to coach Espanyol – three years after he retired there reveals that they were close to signing Messi just before he got promoted to the Barcelona first team. The record-breaking forward has gone on to revolutionise the game at Barcelona winning every trophy possible more than once and breaking every record; some of them also, more than once. 

"Messi was 17 years old (in the 2004-05 season), playing under-18s and was very close to signing for Espanyol. It was close but it never happened.

"In football it's always 'if, if, if' but it's about reality, it's not about maybe what could have happened.''

Barcelona – and Leo Messi – just played Espanyol a few days back in the Copa Del Rey and beat them 6 – 1 on aggregate. Barcelona fans and Espanyol can't stand each other given the proximity of the clubs and the contrasting fortunes. Had Messi have crossed over, they might've been the Catalan side that was dominating the sport. 

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham meanwhile have risen to fourth in the Premier League table two points behind their arch-rivals, Arsenal, thanks to their 3-1 win over city-rivals, Crystal Palace. 

Pochettino was speaking of Messi when the topic brought up during the interview regarding one of his youngsters at White Hart Lane, Dele Alli. The English youngster has been a revelation for the Lily Whites this season dominating the midfield and scoring exquisite goals. 

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