Lionel Messi held ‘long private phone call’ with Jose Mourinho over Barcelona exit
Lionel Messi held a long private phone call with Jose Mourinho over a move to Chelsea in 2004.
The Argentine was desperate to work under The Special One shortly after he joined the Blues.
It followed his magical season with Porto where he took them to Champions League glory in the most unlikely circumstances.
Messi was just 16 when Mourinho was hired by Chelsea at the time, turning 17 later that month.
According to Gianluca Di Marzio, this was the first time the mercurial forward tried to leave Barcelona.
Over the summer, the six-time Ballon d’Or winners was desperate to leave the Nou Camp.
It came about as a result of a shoddy season that saw two managers sacked, Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien.
Slipping up in the title race with Real Madrid was seen as a huge failure.
But the worst point of the season was the utter thrashing handed to them by Bayern Munich, who knocked them out of the Champions League.
They scored eight times in a truly memorable match as the Bavarians went on to win the competition.
Messi was desperate to leave amid interest from Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola cooing him over to the Etihad.
But Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu told the club’s talisman that he would need to take them to court to get out of his contract.
Ultimately, Messi’s loyalty prevailed as he did not want to tarnish his legacy at Los Cules by suing the club.
Meanwhile, the 33-year-old has stayed at home as Argentina crack on with their World Cup qualification.
They face Ecuador at La Bombonera and national team manager Lionel Scaloni has insisted he is happy his star man is still in Spain.
“I spoke to Leo when everything was resolved and I saw him calm,” Scaloni said.
“Since his arrival, we’ve been able to have a long chat. He is happy to be here. He’s now well in his club.
“All we wanted from a distance was for everything to be resolved and for him to play and to be fit.
“For us, it’s positive that he stayed because he was able to play immediately, he knows the club, but in terms of decisions, we don’t get involved in that, we don’t step in the player’s territory.”