Lionel Messi: Man City made £30m bid for Barcelona star after phone call from Abu Dhabi

LIONEL MESSI was the subject of a mistaken £30m bid from Manchester City when he was first making his name at Barcelona, a report claims

Messi has forged a reputation as one of the world’s greatest players over the past decade and has five Ballon d’Ors to prove it.

The Argentine’s individual accolades have come as he has scored 554 goals for and enjoyed great success with Barcelona.

Lionel Messi experienced a trophy-laden spell under now-City boss Pep Guardiola at the Nou Camp, with the duo winning 14 titles together across an array of competitions.

A reunion at the Etihad has been talked up ever since Guardiola took charge of City, with the club’s Abu Dhabi owners having the financial muscle to pull off a deal.

An incredible story of how City made a move for Messi after being taken over 10 years ago has now been dug out by The Guardian’s Daniel Taylor.

And it recounts how former City chief Garry Cook launched the bid having failed to realise what had actually been said to him on the phone.

“Not everything has run as intended since Sheikh Mansour added the club to his portfolio,” Taylor wrote for The Guardian.

“Cook’s 83-page blueprint pledged to turn them into ‘the Virgin of Asia and the world’ with their own line of energy drinks, City-branded Mini Coopers, scooters, telephone cards, designer clothing stores and a chain of City Eating fast-food restaurants.

“Those plans never took off and – no apologies for repeating this story – Cook’s greatest moment came early on, discussing transfer targets with the new owners on a crackling telephone line from Abu Dhabi to Manchester.

“A comment about ‘it’s getting messy’ was misheard and Cook immediately fired off a £30m bid to Barcelona.

“Apparently, he heard the instruction, amid all the excitement, as ‘let’s get Messi’.”

Messi’s legacy has grown in part thanks to a fascinating battle for supremacy with Cristiano Ronaldo.

And Taylor has offered up a reminder of City once looking at signing the Portuguese from rivals Manchester United.

“Likewise, perhaps you remember Sulaiman al-Fahim, Abu Dhabi’s equivalent of the old Harry Enfield Loadsamoney character, who fronted up the takeover and talked about making a £135m bid for Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as going for just about every other superstar footballer who might be available,” Taylor added.

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