Diego Simeone has revealed that he planned to sign Lionel Messi this summer after Barcelona could not renew the player’s deal. Manchester City, PSG and Chelsea were all in the race to sign the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, and Atletico were also interested.
“I’ll tell you something, when all that happened at Barcelona, we called Luis [Suarez] with nothing but respect,” Simeone told Ole magazine.
“I didn’t call Leo [Messi], but I did call Luis and I asked him about how [Messi] was, what he was thinking, if there was the slightest, hypothetical chance that he might come to Atletico Madrid.
“But that lasted all of three hours. Paris Saint-Germain were clearly obsessed with bringing him in.”
Messi and Suarez are best friends, and shared an outstanding strike partnership at Barcelona. The Uruguayan had to move out following the arrival of Ronald Koeman, and Messi left this summer. Had Suarez spoken to Messi about potentially moving to Atletico Madrid, one could assume that Messi would have joined his compatriot Simeone at the Wanda Metropolitano.
The Argentinian’s love for Barcelona also plays a factor in this situation, and he wouldn’t have moved to a direct rival in the Rojiblancos.
However, PSG were much more driven in their efforts to sign Messi, and ultimately got the job done. Messi remains one of the highest-paid footballers in the world, and despite Atletico’s status, it is doubtful whether they would be able to pay Messi’s large salary if they did sign him this summer.