Lionel Messi was close to leaving Barcelona in the summer window – but it was not the first time he has angled for a move away from the club.
The Argentina forward handed in a shock transfer request at Barcelona in August, informing the club of his desire to leave after their humbling 8-2 defeat against Bayern in the Champions League quarter-finals.
But in the end he accepted the La Liga club were not prepared to allow him leave, agreeing to spend one last year before moving on next summer.
According to transfer expert Gianluca Di Marzio, Lionel Messi first set his sights on leaving Barca when Chelsea came calling in 2004.
He is said to have come “so close” to moving to Chelsea as a 16-year-old because of his desire to play for Mourinho, who had first arrived at the club that summer.
Mourinho enjoyed a long private phone call with Messi, doing everything in his power to lure him to Stamford Bridge.
But, in the end a deal failed to materialise and Messi went on to become one of the greatest players in football history at Barcelona.
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In 16 years at the club, he has scored an outstanding 635 goals in 734 games, scooped a record six Ballon d’Or awards, while also helping them to 10 La Liga titles and four Champions League crowns.
Mourinho has talked about Messi in the past, saying in 2015: “One thing is a team. Another thing is a team with Messi. It is a different story. He [reached] a Champions League final with [Frank] Rijkaard. He played a Champions League with [Pep] Guardiola. He is playing a Champions League final with Luis Enrique.
“When people analyse teams, you have to remember that this boy makes everything different. He makes everything different.
“I think this guy makes the gap by himself. You have doubts that [Manchester] City with Messi can win the Champions League? Or Arsenal with Messi can win the Champions League? Or Chelsea with Messi can win the Champions League? Or Man United with Messi can win the Champions League? Don’t you think? I think.
“I am saying that a team with that boy is a different team, is a different story.”