Lionel Messi told Barcelona he wanted Manchester City transfer last summer

The Argentinean was keen on a Pep Guardiola reunion before being talked around by the Barca president and teammate Luis Suarez, a new account in Mundo Deportivo has claimed

Ed Malyon
Wednesday 21 June 2017 09:29
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Messi stayed at Barcelona and was once again outstanding
Messi stayed at Barcelona and was once again outstanding

Lionel Messi told FC Barcelona that he wanted to join Manchester City last summer, as he looked to leave the club in a turbulent off-season.

Messi sensationally quit international football in the wake of Argentina's agonising Copa America final defeat to Chile - their second in 12 months. Messi missed the decisive penalty in the shoot-out and stood down from the national team before, 10 days later, being sentenced for tax fraud.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner told FC Barcelona that week that he wanted to leave and, according to Mundo Deportivo, he even specified that he wanted to head to Man City. Messi was even willing to come out and say in public how angry he was and that he wanted to leave Spain (sound familiar?).

Barca, of course, refused to countenance selling one of the finest players to ever set foot on a football field and, thus, the only way out was for City or the player to stump up his €250m release clause.

City were willing to pay a world-record €150m, but on July 18th it all changed, with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and vice-president Jordi Mestre flying to the United States to talk to Jorge Messi, the player's father.

Bartomeu and Mestre met Jorge and some of the family in Miami but couldn't make a breakthrough. That only came after a three-hour conversation at Messi's Spanish home, in Castelldefels, but the crucial intervention came - as it had done so often on the field in the previous season - from Luis Suarez.

The Uruguayan took his neighbour and close friend out for dinner and spoke at length with him. The next day Suarez, ever-persistent, tried again and he was getting somewhere. He took him to training the next day and by then it was nearly complete, some discussions with Mestre and Bartomeu confirmed Messi was staying.

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