Lionel Messi is now well and truly a Paris Saint-Germain player. This concept seemed inconceivable just a few months ago, but his sudden departure from FC Barcelona led to a series of unexpected events. Months after the fact, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone spoke up about his own attempt to attract the Argentine to join his club.
It was expected that Messi would have numerous suitors from among the world's top football clubs. However, not may had a realistic chance of signing the six-time Ballon d'Or winner. Simeone admitted that he had tried to appeal to Messi's former teammate and good friend Luis Suarez to help him get into the coveted player's head.
In an interview with Argentine media outlet Ole, Simeone admitted, "With what happened at Barcelona [during the summer transfer window]] we called Luis [Suarez]. With all due respect, I didn't call Leo, but I did call Luis to ask how Messi was doing and whether he'd be willing or if there was a small chance he'd come to Atletico."
Suarez himself made the move from Barcelona to Atletico in 2020, and the Uruguay international has since cemented his place as one of Simeone's most reliable soldiers. After being unceremoniously kicked out of the Barcelona squad by current manager Ronald Koeman, Suarez quickly established himself as an important part of the Atletico Madrid squad. He even played a major role in the club's run to the La Liga title last season.
As such, Suarez and his positive experience since his move would have been a good way to attract Messi. However, it was not to be, as the attempt proved futile. "It was something that only lasted three hours, because PSG were already obsessed with signing him," said Simeone.
He echoed the sentiments of Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who said that PSG's offer was already on the table in the weeks leading up to Messi's eventual exit. He said in a recent interview that he had hoped Messi would offer to play for Barcelona for free, owing to the fact that the club could not afford to accommodate his wages in the allowable salary cap. However, a lucrative deal on the table prevented Messi from making that offer.
Nevertheless, the Argentine superstar claimed that after a successful summer wherein he led the national team to the Copa America title, he returned to Spain with the intention of signing a new deal with the Catalan giants. However, he was told that it would not be possible even if he had already accepted a massive pay cut which is believed to have reduced his wages by at least half.
In the end, PSG made a good offer, and Barcelona had none. Atletico Madrid tried to enter the picture, but Messi made the quick decision to make the seamless move to join the Ligue 1 giants.