Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that he was very close to linking up with Lionel Messi during his playing days at La Liga club Espanyol, as reported by Sky Sports.
The Argentinan manager was addressing media questions about how close Liverpool came to signing Spurs’ teenage sensation Dele Alli. The 19-year-old signed for the North London club from MK Dons last January, and he has emerged as one of the most talented youngsters in Premier League this season.
Recently former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers revealed that he also wanted to sign the youngster, but the Reds couldn’t agree on a deal and the player ended up at White Heart Lane.
However, Pochettino insists that such occurrences are common in football and recounts about the time Espanyol came very close to signing Lionel Messi during the 20042005 season.
He said: “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 (away), unbelievable but this was true, maybe Dele wasn’t true but this was.
“Messi was very close to signing for Espanyol. 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.”
Messi was 17 years old at that time and playing for the Under-18’s at Barcelona. He opted to join the Blaugrana’s senior team before the 2004/2005 season started, making his debut on October 16 2004 against…Espanyol. The rest is history…