Rivals make Lionel Messi admission and claim transfer bid ‘lasted three hours’

Matthew Briggs

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has admitted that he had a vision to bring Lionel Messi to the Wanda Metropolitano in the summer.

Simeone says he was keen on getting Messi to Atletico and even called Luis Suarez to see if a deal was possible.

Messi became a free agent when his Barcelona contract expired on June 30. The 34-year-old had planned to stay at Barca for life but when the Catalans pulled out of a contract extension for the Argentinian, the writing was on the wall.

The mercurial forward signed for Paris Saint-Germain on August 10, but not before Simeone had made tentative enquiries. Messi signed a two-year contract with the option of a further year. And according to Simeone, PSG were well down the line with a transfer when Suarez, Messi’s pal from the Camp Nou, had asked about his future.

“When what happened at Barcelona happened, we called Luis,” Simeone told Argentinian newspaper Diario Ole on Tuesday. “I didn’t call Leo. But I called Luis to say ‘look, how is he? Would he be keen? Is there the slightest possibility… imagining that he could come to Atletico Madrid.”

Simeone has said that Atleti’s dream of landing Messi was short-lived, once it became apparent talks with PSG were well advanced.

“It lasted about three hours,” he said. “Obviously Paris Saint-Germain were obsessed with that signing. The truth is that [coaching Messi] hasn’t happened because he’s been at Barcelona, we’ve been at Atletico, and while he’s been with the national team I haven’t been there.”

He added, laughing: “It’s like an aeroplane that you see in the sky and say ‘there it goes…'”


Asked where Messi, who notched his first goal for PSG against Man City last month, should play, he added: “If you ask me where Messi should play: in a team that wants to win.

“He should play in a team that knows what to do to win. It doesn’t matter where. In a team that wants to win and is prepared to win. Don’t worry about him. Worry about the team.”

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Messi all about the team

PSG sit joint top of their Champions League group and are the bookies’ favourites to take the crown.

Messi though is aware the competition is fierce.

“It is true that the centre of attention is on PSG,” he told  L’Equipe (via The Mirror). “But there are other very strong teams, such as Chelsea, the Manchester teams. Real Madrid, who always responds, Inter Milan, Bayern.

“We have great individuals, but we still have to know each other well to form a team. To win important titles you have to play as a team,” he added.

“That is what makes me say that we are still one step back compared to all these clubs , who have more collective experience than us.”

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