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25th Jan 2016

Mauricio Pochettino reveals how Lionel Messi was “a centimetre away” from leaving Barcelona

What could have been

Darragh Murphy

Mauricio Pochettino claims he came within a whisker of working with footballing god Lionel Messi back in 2004.

The Spurs boss says that during his playing days at Espanyol, the club had the opportunity to sign his fellow Argentine and revealed how very close the deal came to being done.

The revelation came as Pochettino was asked about Dele Alli almost signing for Liverpool, with the former Southampton coach saying: “Do you know how many players in football are close to signing for many clubs?

“Dele Alli, it’s impossible to speak about that because maybe different clubs were close to signing Dele Alli. Dele Alli is now here.

“We were close at Espanyol to signing Lionel Messi but this was true. A centimetre. Unbelievable but this was true, maybe Dele wasn’t true but this was.

UEFA Champions League - Barcelona v Panathinaikos

“Messi was 17-years-old, playing under-18s and was very close to signing for Espanyol,” he explained. “It was close but it never happened.

“In football it’s always ‘if, if, if’ but it’s about reality, it’s not about maybe what could have happened.”

While it may seem preposterous now, you can’t help but wonder what could have been for Espanyol.