Lionel Messi is being backed to remain at Barcelona by former president Joan Laporta, but he admits that he feared losing the Argentine to Inter in 2006.
Inter were prepared to spend big on taking him to Italy a few years after his breakthrough at Camp Nou, but Laporta and Co. stood firm to ensure that no deal was done.
The former Barca president told The Guardian when asked if Messi ever came closing to leaving during his reign: “It was 2006 when Inter made an offer.
They were prepared to pay the €150m buy-out clause, which is why we [later] raised it to €250m, but I always felt reassured by my relationship with his dad, Jorge.
“I told him: ‘They’ll have to pay the clause because I won’t sell. He’ll be happy here, he’ll get glory. There, he’ll only win financially. Your son’s destined to be the greatest in history and here he’ll have a team to help get there. He’ll enjoy it’.”
Laporta added: “I’m very Cruyffista but what Leo does – and I talked about this a lot with Johan – makes him the best in history. Johan said so too.
“Messi’s football is beautiful and effective. For me the best ever are Cruyff, Maradona and Messi. Leo’s a mix of Cruyff and Maradona, but he is Leo Messi.”