Mauricio Pochettino has revealed his former club Espanyol once almost signed Lionel Messi on loan.
The Argentine coach started his managerial career with the Spanish club back in 2009 when Messi was already a star at Barcelona.
Pochettino had finished his playing career with Espanyol a few years earlier, and it was during that time he nearly became teammates with the rising talent.
Messi could well yet play under Pochettino if PSG are successful in luring him to the Parc des Princes this summer.
And Pochettino is keen to work with his compatriot, though refused to be drawn on the player’s future.
“Messi to PSG? No comment,” Pochettino told El Larguero . “ When I was at Espanyol or Southampton, my dream was to have the best players at the club and Messi came close to being loaned out to Espanyol.
“The deal was well advanced but he delivered a great display at the pre-season Trofeo Gamper and that was the end of that.
“We’ve met over the years in places such as London or in Italy. We both share the love for Newell’s [Old Boys], as we both came through their academy and that is our common bond.”
The pre-season performance Pochettino is referring to is likely to be the 2005 Joan Gamper victory, when an 18-year-old Messi left the pitch to a standing ovation after the match against Juventus.
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After the game then-Juve boss Fabio Capello hailed Messi and tried himself to loan the youngster, while Inter Milan attempted to sign him permanently.
Ex-Barca president Joan Laporta has since admitted the club faced a real possibility of losing their biggest prospect, but managed to fend off other clubs to keep hold of his services.
A similar scenario is now playing out this year, with Barcelona keen to convince Messi to see out his career at the club, while the likes of PSG and Man City are hopeful of landing him on a free transfer.
Pochettino added: “I’m aware of all that is going on [with Messi]. I’ve been watching everyone from West Ham to Valladolid and these days you need to keep your eyes on every team.
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“I really don’t want to talk about Messi as everything then gets blown out of proportion.”
PSG sporting director Leonardo has also opted to remain tight-lipped about links with the Barcelona captain, but admitted there is interest from their side.
“Great players like Messi will always be on PSG’s list,” Leonardo told France Football . “But this is of course not the time to talk about it, or to dream about it.
“But we are seated at the large table of those clubs who are following the matter closely. In fact, no, we are not yet seated, but our chair is reserved just in case. Four months in football is an eternity, especially in this period.”