Lionel Messi nearly secured stunning €150m switch to Serie A giants in 2006
- Lionel Messi nearly left Barcelona in 2006 to join one of Serie A's most successful clubs.
- The Argentine forward's decision to stay has reaped several rewards over the years.
Lionel Messi is the definition of a one-club man. The Argentine false nine is a part of a dying breed of players to have played for only one club throughout his career.
While it is difficult to imagine Lionel Messi playing for a team other than FC Barcelona, there are a few occasions where his departure nearly materialized.
One such instance took place in 2006 when Serie A giants Inter Milan placed a bid of €150m to secure a 19-year-old Lionel Messi's services. It took several last-ditch attempts from then-president Joan Laporta to ensure that Lionel Messi stayed at the Catalan club.
"It was 2006 when Inter made an offer. They were prepared to pay the €150m buy-out clause, which is why we raised it to €250m, but I always felt reassured by my relationship with his dad, Jorge."
“I told him: ‘They’ll have to pay the clause because I won’t sell. He’ll be happy here, he’ll get glory. There, he’ll only win financially. Your son’s destined to be the greatest in history and here he’ll have a team to help get there. He’ll enjoy it’.”
Joan Laporta played a crucial role in promoting Lionel Messi to the first team and clearly knew what the little maestro could go on to do. Inter Milan seemed to value Lionel Messi very highly as well. €150m was a transfer fee of astronomical proportions in 2006.
“I’m very Cruyffista but what Leo does – and I talked about this a lot with Johan – makes him the best in history. Johan said so too."
“Messi’s football is beautiful and effective. For me the best ever are Cruyff, Maradona and Messi. Leo’s a mix of Cruyff and Maradona, but he is Leo Messi.”
Lionel Messi went on to attain legendary status at Barcelona
Lionel Messi made one of the most important decisions of his life in 2006 and has never looked back since. The forward rose in stature like the fieriest of phoenixes in the following years, tearing defenses apart with his otherworldly skills.
Barcelona's resident magician at the time was Ronaldinho. The Brazilian genius took Lionel Messi under his wing and introduced shades of samba magic into Lionel Messi's repertoire.
Ronaldinho also assisted Lionel Messi's first goal in the Blaugrana shirt. The Brazilian casually chipped the ball into the path of the young wizard, who lobbed a fantastic volley over the keeper's head. The goal has since served as a precursor to Lionel Messi's unique style and personality on the pitch.
Lionel Messi has gone on to score well over 600 goals in official competitions, winning 4 UEFA Champions League trophies along the way. Had Joan Laporta not been as convincing as he was on that fateful day, Barcelona's fortunes would have been very different in the years to come.
Breaking the bank aside, there is not a lot more that Inter Milan could have done to secure the services of Lionel Messi. That being said, it is safe to deduce that football history would have looked very different with Lionel Messi in the blue and black of the Nerazzurri.