SOCCER | ATLÉTICO

Simeone denies Atletico Madrid held talks to sign Messi

Lionel Messi has reunited with Neymar rather than Luis Suárez, with rumours of Atletico Madrid pursuing the Argentinean refuted by Diego Simeone.

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Simeone denies Atletico Madrid held talks to sign Messi

Atletico Madrid did not speak with Lionel Messi about the possibility of reuniting him with Luis Suárez at the club, according to coach Diego Simeone.

After Barça's financial difficulties forced a tearful Messi to announce his exit from the club last week, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner signed a two-year contract with Paris Saint-Germain on Monday.

Messi is now poised to form a frightening front three with former Barcelona team-mate Neymar and France star Kylian Mbappé.

There had been talk of him linking up with the other former member of Barca's fabled MSN forward line and signing for LaLiga champions Atlético.

But Simeone denied there had been any communication between the club and the Argentina international.

Simeone: "We didn't have the slightest chance"

Simeone told a media conference ahead of Atlético's LaLiga opener at Celta Vigo: "[Messi] is a really important departure for LaLiga and for Barcelona. "We weren't talking with him. We didn't have the slightest chance."

On the impact of Messi's exit on LaLiga, Simeone added: "I understand that not even the Premier League has Messi or [Cristiano] Ronaldo, and it's a very competitive league.

"It will depend on the growth of all the teams to be able to make a competitive league without having either of [those players], as England have done."

Messi's departure would appear to be a significant boost to Atlético's hopes of fending off both Barça and Real Madrid once more and retaining the title.

But Simeone clearly has little interest in talk of Atletico being title favourites.

"We will not change our path, which is game by game, to understand what the league is like," he said. "There is no better way to compete than how we have been doing so in the last nine and a half years."