How Lionel Messi nearly left Barcelona for Getafe

Barcelona Lionel Messi

Getty Lionel Messi and Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona in 2002

Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola are synonymous with Barcelona having won countless titles during their time together at the Camp Nou in what was one of the best teams La Liga has ever seen.

Yet things could have been different had Getafe president Angel Torrres had his way. The Spaniard has explained how he came close to bringing the duo to the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.

Torres told Marca that he enjoyed a close relationship with former Barcelona president Joan Laporta that almost saw Los Azulones land the Argentinian in 2002. He said: “In Messi’s first or second year, we came really close to bringing him to Getafe on loan,” he said. “In the end, [Frank] Rijkaard didn’t agree to it and we were left with just our desire.”

Manager Frank Rijkaard handed Messi his debut for Barcelona as a 16-year-old in a pre-season friendly against Porto in November 2013. The forward has gone on to make history at the club, winning 10 league titles and the Champions League four times.

Getafe Also Wanted Guardiola

Messi was a key part of Guardiola’s famous Barcelona team that enjoyed great success both at home and abroad. Guardiola took charge in 2008, replacing Rijkaard, with eyebrows raised at the time due to his relative inexperience as a manager.

Torres explained that Laporta was not too sure about Guardiola taking the job at the Camp Nou and had a plan that would have seen the Spaniard head to Getafe instead.

“One day, Txiki [Begiristain] were at a European draw in Switzerland and the idea was that [Getafe boss Michael] Laudrup would go to Barcelona and we would get Guardiola as a replacement. To start with, Laporta wasn’t convinced by Pep at all.”

Yet Guardiola did end up getting the job at Barcelona and went on to win 14 trophies in his four-year stay before departing in 2012 and taking a year’s sabbatical.

Torres Aiming for the Champions League

Getafe may have missed out on both Messi and Guardiola but Torres is hoping they can claim a place in the Champions League for the first time if the 2019-20 season resumes in Spain. La Liga president Javier Tebas told Movistar he is hopeful the competition can restart in June.

Jose Bordalas’ side were in fifth place in the table when the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic but level on points with Real Sociedad in fourth place. The top four teams in Spain qualify for Europe’s top competition.

Torres said if his team do qualify then next season might be his last at Getafe: “I’ll stick around for a year to enjoy the Champions League and then I’ll leave.”

READ NEXT: Why Neymar May Miss Out On Barcelona Return

READ NEXT: Luis Suarez’s Return Among 5 La Liga Storylines to Watch