Barcelona star, Lionel Messi, was “very close” to joining Espanyol in 2005, according to Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Messi was still in the early stages of his senior career at the time, but ended up staying at Camp Nou.
Pochettino, who was playing for Espanyol at the time, claims the Argentine almost joined the club after impressing against Juventus in the Joan Gamper Trophy.
“I started to hear about him when I was at Espanyol – a small guy playing in the academy in Barcelona.
“He arrived when he was 13 years old, going from Argentina to Barcelona. Then I heard he was so close to signing for Espanyol – very close – in the season Barcelona played against Juventus under [Fabio] Capello in the Joan Gamper Cup.
“Because he was so fantastic in the Joan Gamper, Capello praised him afterwards and they changed the decision and kept Messi at Barcelona.
“So if you look back in history, maybe if he didn’t play in the Joan Gamper that summer, maybe today he could have been the biggest star in Espanyol and Espanyol could be Barcelona.
“We would have been team-mates, and maybe I would have still been in Espanyol managing him,” Pochettino said ahead of his team’s clash with Barca in the Champions League on Wednesday.