A Spanish football expert has documented the constant pursuit of Lionel Messi, by Barcelona’s biggest rivals.
Guillem Balague, author of Messi, a recently released biography on the Barcelona and Argentina footballing superstar spoke exclusively to Sportlobster.com, explaining how Real Madrid are regularly in contact with the Catalan club to pursue their hottest property.
The acclaimed writer, who has had unprecedented access to Messi’s inner circle to write the book, including coaches, team-mates and relatives, says:
“When Messi was still in Argentina at Newell’s Old Boys and Barcelona delayed their decision to bring him back after his trial, Real Madrid approached the Messi family and expressed their interest. Since then there has been a fluent conversation between Madrid and the Messi world.
“His people have been approached every year, but up until now they haven’t thought there had been any possibility of him switching sides. There was a case in 2005, when Jorge Valdano was the director of football, where Inter Milan were willing to pay for Messi and there were divisions and problems with the Barcelona directors in relation to a new contract for Messi. Valdano made a call to Messi’s people and one of them was heard saying ‘I think we’re going to Madrid’. Then Barcelona got really scared and offered him the contract he originally wanted.
“Madrid’s aim is just to let Messi know they are there if he ever wants to try something else. They are always showing both directly and indirectly that if needs be they will make an offer for him. His buy out clause is €250million, so if he wanted to go or if anyone thought they had a chance of signing him they would pull together the money somehow. Of course it’s not just Real Madrid – any club would try to sign him, as they would be getting the player as well as a commercial value of €400million.
When asked if Messi is likely to leave Barcelona Balague explains: “No, I don’t think so, partly because the map of his career has always been in his mind since he was a kid. Once he arrived at Barcelona he needed to feel comfortable and for Barcelona to understand him. If he was to leave he’d have to build a little Rosario – his hometown – like he has done in Barcelona, surrounded by his family and friends. He wouldn’t be able to build something like that somewhere else easily, so I don’t think he’d go through the hassle of moving. I feel in his head the only way out of Barcelona is to Newell’s Old Boys – to go back home.
“But, having said all that, football is a funny business – Arsenal also tried to sign him in the past and if things go really wrong then there is the chance of signing anyone. In 2012 Ronaldo went to the President of Real Madrid as there was an offer from PSG to take him away. Florentino Perez answered saying, ‘bring me enough money to buy Messi and then you can go’.
Guillem Balague is a commentator and correspondent on Spanish football, both on television and radio and his work is regularly published in titles, including AS, El Larguero, Bleacher Report and twentyfour7. Other than Messi, Balague has also published books on Liverpool’s 2004-05 Champions League campaign and Pep Guardiola’s biography.
In order to read the full interview click here.