Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are best friends after forming a terrifying duo at Barcelona but have since left for Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid respectively
Diego Simeone launched an attempt to sign Lionel Messi from Barcelona last summer after a phone call with Messi’s good friend Luis Suarez.
However, the Atletico Madrid manager soon canned his ambitious plans as he looked to take advantage of his Barca’s tough times.
Messi’s contract at the Nou Camp expired in the summer as he became a free agent during the Copa America – a competition he won for the first time.
It was expected that upon his arrival he would re-sign for Los Cules – the club he has spent his entire professional career with.
But financial problems and La Liga rules prevented Messi from putting pen to paper and he was forced to leave in an extraordinary summer of transfers.
Paris Saint-Germain snapped up the Argentine to be coached by compatriot Mauricio Pochettino while forming an electric attack with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
However, things could have been very different had Simeone had his way as he plotted to steal the six-time Ballon d’Or winner from under Barca’s noses.
Atletico Madrid had just won La Liga and were feeling confident in the transfer window.
And El Cholo conjured up a plan to sign Messi – employing his best friend Suarez to help broker a deal between the player and club.
Speaking to Ole magazine, via Marca, Simeone said: “I’ll tell you a detail, when all this happened at Barcelona we called Luis (Suarez).
“With all due respect, I did not call Leo, but I did call Luis to ask how Messi was doing, if he was eager or if there was a slight possibility that he would come to Atlético.
“That lasted three hours, because PSG was already obsessed with that incorporation.
“If it was something? No, not at all, you see the plane passing through the sky and you say here it comes, well…”
Messi and Suarez are best friends from their time together at Barcelona and it was well documented how the 34-year-old was upset by the manner of the former Liverpool star’s departure from Catalonia.
Ronald Koeman had told the forward that he was no longer needed at the Nou Camp in the summer of 2020 but has since been a hit in Madrid.
In his first season at the Wanda Metropolitano, he scored 21 times in La Liga as Atletico won the title ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Whether Messi would have ever considered Atletico remains to be seen while Simeone explained what it would mean to coach the PSG talisman.
He said: “There were no situations to direct him. He was always at Barcelona, I was in Spain at Atlético and we don’t coincide as players in the national team.
“But to me, he transmits that to me. If you ask me where Messi has to play, I tell you in a team that wants to win. On a team that knows what it has to do to win.
“It doesn’t matter what he plays, it matters that the team is prepared to win. Don’t think about him, think about the team.”