?Most football fans allowed themselves a brief snigger when Florentino Perez suggested that Real Madrid had tried to sign Lionel Messi many moons ago.

The fact that Barcelona would have sanctioned a transfer of their most prized superstar to their bitter La Liga rivals is the most unlikely story to emerge in recent times – and yet there is some truth to it.

In fact, according to Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague, Los Blancos tried to poach Messi from Barcelona – twice.

Balague conducted a Twitter Q&A with Sky Sports’s Spanish division recently and, coupled with the above tweeted answer to one query about Real’s interest in Messi, elaborated on his story.

He revealed: “Florentino did not tell the full story. He actually tried. Twice. Jorge Valdano was a football director at the club, with a great relationship with the Messi family. There were tensions with the Messi’s and the club for many reasons and Valdano & Madrid tried to take advantage of it. It did not go very far!”

Blimey. Imagine how different things would have been if Messi had signed for Real. We imagine Ronaldo wouldn’t have joined them, for starters.

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