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Simeone: I asked Suárez if Messi fancied joining Atlético Madrid

Atlético Madrid boss Diego Simeone says he sounded out a possible summer move for Lionel Messi, who left Barcelona on a free transfer in August.

Argentina's Lionel Messi (L) greets Uruguay's Luis Suarez before the start of the South American qualification football match for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, at the Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, on October 10, 2021. (Photo by Juan Mabro

Atlético Madrid boss Diego Simeone has revealed he sounded out Luis Suárez over the possibility of signing former Barcelona star Lionel Messi in the summer.

After an illustrious 17-year career at Barça, Argentina captain Messi left the Camp Nou as a free agent in August, after failing to agree a new contract that would have allowed the cash-strapped Catalan giants to adhere to LaLiga’s financial fair play rules.

Atlético hopes of signing Messi "lasted three hours", says Simeone

The 34-year-old subsequently joined Ligue 1 club Paris Saint-Germain, but Simeone has told an interview in the Argentinian media that he spoke to his compatriot’s close friend and former Barça striker partner Suárez, who left the Blaugrana for Atlético in 2020, to ask whether the superstar forward might be interested in moving to the Wanda Metropolitano.

“I didn’t call Leo, but I did call Luis, to ask him how Messi was doing, whether he fancied it and whether there was the slightest chance of him coming to Atlético,” Simeone told the newspaper Olé. "It was something that lasted three hours, because PSG already had their hearts set on signing him.

So the chance to work with Messi has never come up. He was always at Barça [before joining PSG], I’ve been at Atlético and we didn’t coincide as players in the Argentina national team.”

Simeone added: “If you ask me where Messi has to play, I’ll say in a team that wants to win. In a team that knows what it needs to do to win. It doesn’t matter what position he plays; what matters is that the team is set up to win. Don’t think about him, think about the team.”

"It was like watching a plane go by"

Asked whether his summer interest in Messi led to any direct contact with the player or his camp, Simeone said: “No, nothing at all; it was like watching a plane go by in the sky.”