The Argentine has enjoyed an incredible career with Barcelona, scoring 635 goals in more than 700 appearances.
It has seen the forward win 10 La Liga titles as well as four Champions League honours, earning six Ballon D’Ors.
But reports emerged last month that the 33-year-old was “tempted” by a move to north London in 2003 when friend Cesc Fabregas moved there.
And Cagigao, who was sacked from his role as head of recruitment this summer after 24 years, has revealed why a move failed to materialise.
It has been a hectic season so far – so make sure you don’t miss a single thing by signing up for the brilliant new Mirror Football newsletter!
All the latest transfer news and big stories will land straight into your inbox. You won’t miss out.
To sign up, put your email at the top of this article or follow the instructions on this link.
Speaking to The Guardian , the former scout said: “Messi, [Gerard] Pique, [Juan] Mata were very very close, and there were others.
“With Messi, work permit issues ensured we couldn’t get as close as we would have liked.
“And that’s all I can say on that. A lot get away – two, three, four a year – but I prefer to look at the ones we did get.”
While Mata spent three seasons at Chelsea before also heading to Old Trafford, where he has scored 50 goals in more than 250 appearances.
But the Barca captain performed a U-turn as he decided to stay, despite talks between Messi’s dad and chiefs ending in stalemate.
City, though, have not given up hope on signing the Argentina as their chief operating officer hinted at a bid next summer.
Sign up to the Mirror Football email here for the latest news and transfer gossip