According to Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich offered Barcelona star a whopping £1million per week contract to join Chelsea in the summer of 2014.
The fee would have been a world-record £225million transfer – Messi’s buyout clause at the time – with Messi, Blues owner Roman Abramovich and then-manager Jose Mourinho keen for the deal to go through.
In his latest book Grand Hotel Calciomercato, a diary of the untold stories of the transfer market, Di Marzio revealed Chelsea first made contact with Messi in January 2014 with the Argentine in the midst of a tax fraud probe. Frustrated with the Spanish authorities he sought a new life in London with the lure of playing under Mourinho to boot.
Former Chelsea midfielder Deco, who was also a teammate of Messi at Barcelona, set up a meeting between Messi and Mourinho via a FaceTime call.
That reported encounter went well with Messi telling his camp afterwards ‘With Mourinho, for how he’s spoken to me, I can win whatever I want: he’s a winner, go ahead and close the deal.’
However, Chelsea’s move for Messi collapsed after Deco was squeezed out of talks as Mourinho spoke directly to Messi himself. Deco went on to ‘snitch’ to Messi’s father, who got angry at being excluded from negotiations with the personal terms already agreed by Messi’s intermediaries.
Messi’s father convinced the Argentine to remain at Barcelona and shun Chelsea’s mouthwatering offer.