Speaking to Le Parisien, journalist Guillem Balagué revealed how Real Madrid could have signed Lionel Messi in 2001.
Barcelona had an agreement with Messi and his family for the talented youngster to join the Camp Nou club. One hundred million pesetas per season was the salary he was going to receive, according to Balagué, the author of Messi’s biography.
The Blaugrana’s sporting director at the time, Javier Pérez Farguell, was stunned to see Messi’s contract. He considered it excessive and presented a lower offer. “Who does he think he is? Maradona? Let’s stop this and let him go back to Argentina”, he said, according to Balagué.
At the time, fellow Argentine Jorge Valdano, who was Real Madrid’s sporting director, was aware of the situation. Madrid were willing to pay more, but Valdano did not want to make a formal proposal in order to avoid going to war with Barcelona.
Messi went on to join Barcelona and the rest is history.