Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has revealed that his former club Espanyol came close to signing Argentine superstar Lionel Messi during the 2004-05 season.
Pochettino, who played for Espanyol from 2004 to 2006, came close to playing alongside Messi when the Spanish club explored a loan move for the budding teenaged star from FC Barcelona in 2005.
“We were close at Espanyol to signing Lionel Messi but this was true. A centimetre (away), unbelievable but this was true. Messi was 17 years old (in the 2004/05 season), playing Under-18s and was very close to signing for Espanyol. It was close but it never happened,” Pochettino, who played for Espanyol from 2004 to 2006 and was appointed manager of the Spanish clun in 2009, was quoted as saying by the British media on Sunday.
“In football it’s always ‘if, if, if’ but it’s about reality, it’s not about maybe what could have happened,” he added.
Pochettino, who was speaking after Tottenham defeated Crystal Palace 3-1 in an English Premier League (EPL) match on Saturday, also took a swipe at former Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers over the signing of young England midfielder Dele Alli.
Rodgers had claimed that Alli — who scored with a superb volley from 20 yards against Palace — had almost signed for Liverpool before joining Tottenham.
“Do you know how many players in football are close to signing for many clubs. Dele Alli, it’s impossible to speak about that because maybe different clubs are close to signing Dele Alli, it’s like Harry Kane, it’s like different players, it’s only one comment from some manager. Dele Alli is now here,” Pochettino said.