The six-time Ballon d’Or winner’s talents were clear from a young age, prompting Inter to make a huge offer to Barcelona in 2006.
Joan Laporta has revealed Inter Milan offered Barcelona €250m to sign a teenage Lionel Messi in 2006 and on how he kept the player at Camp Nou.
After making his debut as a 16-year-old in a friendly against Jose Mourinho’s Porto in November 2003, Messi soon sealed a permanent spot in the senior team and scored his first goal against Albacete over a year later.
In no time at all, the Argentine became the major attraction in a squad consisting of talents such as Ronaldinho.
Several clubs naturally took an interest in him, with Laporta confirming that then-Inter owner Massimo Moratti lodged a world-record bid in 2006.
“He always had offers: in 2006 Moratti gave me 250 million and I said no, there I saw the esteem of Messi and his family for Barcelona,” said the 58-year-old, who served as Barcelona president between 2003 and 2010, as quoted by Goal.
“His father asked me what I would do as a father and I told him, that the best thing was to stay, I told him that we would make a team that would accompany him to achieve the greatest successes, that would touch the glory and make history.
“I saw his love for the club, the city, and country.”
Messi remains a Barcelona player to this day, having established a legacy as one of the club’s greatest players in history by winning a remarkable 34 pieces of silverware.
Keeping the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, who has also tallied an incredible 641 goals and 282 assists in 743 games, for next season will be Laporta’s main priority if he wins a second term as club president.