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Friday, January 15, 2021

‘We came really close to signing Messi’

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Angel Torres has also suggested that he talked to former Barcelona sporting director Txiki Begiristain about bringing in Pep Guardiola as head coach

Getafe president Angel Torres says the club came close to signing Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi on loan as well as having a verbal agreement to appoint Pep Guardiola as manager.

Torres has a close relationship with former Barca president Joan Laporta and was hopeful of luring two of world football’s biggest names to the club.

Messi was just 17 when he first broke into the Barca first team in 2004, with Torres revealing he wanted the Argentine to gain some valuable senior experience with his Madrid-based side shortly afterwards.

“In Messi’s first or second year [in the first team], we came really close to bringing him to Getafe on loan,” Torres told Marca .

“In the end, [then manager Frank] Rijkaard didn’t agree to it and we were left with just our desire.”

Despite that disappointment Torres again approached Barca in the summer of 2008, this time for Guardiola.

Torres had identified the Manchester City boss as a potential successor to Michael Laudrup, who was expected to replace Rijkaard at Camp Nou.

The former Denmark international was in demand after a fine debut campaign at Getafe, guiding the club to the Copa del Rey final and the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup.

“One day, [Barcelona sporting director] Txiki [Begiristain] was at a European draw in Switzerland and the idea was that Laudrup would go to Barcelona and we would get Guardiola as a replacement because, to start with, Laporta wasn’t convinced by Pep at all,” Torres said.

Despite the speculation, Laudrup’s proposed move to Camp Nou never materialised and it was Guardiola who ended up taking the top job instead, again leaving Getafe wondering what might have been.

It proved to be an inspired choice by the Barca hierarchy. The club went on to enjoy a golden period of glory under Guardiola, with the goals of Messi central to that success.

The Catalan giants won 14 major trophies under his stewardship, including three successive La Liga titles and two Champions Leagues trophies between 2008 and 2012.

Messi, meanwhile, has spent his entire professional career at Barcelona, scoring 627 goals in 718 appearances, winning a club-record 34 trophies.

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