A claim by any side of coming close to signing Lionel Messi is just that, a claim. Such is what Spanish top-flight side Getafe can boast of after its president, Angel Torres said the club nearly lured the Barcelona superstar on loan, as well as having a verbal agreement to appoint Pep Guardiola as manager.
Torres’ close relationship with former Barça president Joan Laporta was the leverage Getafe felt they had in the hope they could claim two of world football’s biggest names for themselves. Messi was just 17 when he first broke into the Blaugrana’s first team in 2004, with Torres revealing he wanted the Argentine to gain some valuable senior experience with his Madrid-based side shortly afterwards.
In Messi’s first or second year [in the first team], we came really close to bringing him to Getafe on loan,” Torres told the Spanish national daily sport newspaper, Marca. “In the end, [then manager Frank] Rijkaard didn’t agree to it and we were left with just our desire.”
Undeterred, the Getafe president again knocked on Barça’s door in the summer of 2008, albeit for Guardiola on that occasion. Torres had identified the Manchester City boss as a potential successor to Michael Laudrup, who was expected to replace Rijkaard at Camp Nou. “One day, [Barcelona sporting director] Txiki [Begiristain] was at a European draw in Switzerland and the idea was that Laudrup would go to Barcelona and we would get Guardiola as a replacement.
But Laudrup’s proposed move to Camp Nou never came to fruition and it was Guardiola who ended up taking the top job instead, again leaving Getafe sieving through the dirt. Cometh Guardiola and his management of mercurial Messi and a talented Barça squad, the club went on to enjoy a golden period of glory like none which had been seen before.
The Catalan giants won 14 major trophies under Guardiola’s stewardship, including three successive LaLiga titles and two Champions League trophies between 2008 and 2012. Messi, who has spent his entire professional career at Barcelona, has amassed a record 627 goals in 718 appearances while raking in an enviable haul of 34 trophies in this time.