Lionel Messi could have joined Real Madrid as a kid
Speaking to French outlet Le Parisien, journalist Guillem Balagué explained how Jorge Valdano was close to signing the Argentine wonderkid.
It's the autumn of 2001 and Barcelona have an agreement with Lionel Messi and his family for the talented youngster to join the Catalan club. One hundred million pesetas per season was the salary he was going to receive, according to Guillem Balagué, the author of Messi's biography, who spoke to Le Parisien. At that time, Barça's sporting director, Javier Pérez Farguell, was shocked when he saw Messi's contract. He considered it excessive and presented a lower offer. "Who does he think he is? Maradona? Let's stop this and let him go back to Argentina", he said.
Real Madrid's sporting director at the time, Jorge Valdano, was aware of the situation. Barcelona did reduce Messi's offer, backing up their reasons with a clause going against overpaying for talented kids.
Los Blancos were willing to pay more than Barcelona, but Valdano wasn't willing to go to war with Barcelona. Balagué went on to further reveal that when Cristiano Ronaldo asked for a contract improvement at the Santiago Bernabéu, club president Florentino Pérez was clear in his reponse to the Portuguese forward. "If you are not happy, you can use your buyout clause and we will pay for Messi's with it," Pérez reportedly said.
We all know what happened then. Messi went on to become public enemy number one in the Clásicos against Real Madrid, where he broke every record under the sun. On Tuesday, he will have the opportunity to score once again against Madrid, but this time for PSG in the Champions League.
Mbappé heavily linked with Madrid move
PSG forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappé also came close to joining Madrid as kids. Neymar excelled at Santos before joining Barça, who beat Madrid in the battle for his signature. Mbappé, who is expected to sign for Madrid this summer, came close to moving to the Spanish capital when he was 14 years old. He visited the club's facilities, but his family, as he himself has admitted, preferred for him to stay in France and he opted for Monaco instead.