It was never really on the table for Barcelona to sell Lionel Messi, but it doesn’t mean no one has ever tried. Apparently, Manchester City, during the early days of the Sheikh Mansour ownership, made an offer of about £30 million for the player, which was quickly rejected.

Did they actually mean to buy him? Probably not. But after Sheikh Mansour completed his takeover of the club, City were trying to sign all kinds of expensive and formidable attacking player, unsuccessfully. Having a lot of money is one thing. Convincing big stars from bigger clubs to come and play for you and build up the club is a different thing.

In a recently released book, The Manchester City Years by Gary James, former Manchester City executive Gary Cook explains a funny little mix up that in a different set of circumstances might have landed Lionel Messi at Eastlands to play for Manchester City.

After bids to sign Fernando Torres from Liverpool and Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United didn’t really work out, there was some sort of conference call between City executives and the owner being held, with people sitting in Manchester, London and Abu Dhabi, trying to get the owner’s plans together.

At one point, Mansour said something that sounded like “it’s all getting a little bit messy…” From that, the people on the other side understood that his orders were to “Get Messi…” which resulted in an offer worth £30 million being made to Barcelona for their shiniest jewel. Needless to say, it was rejected, and the accidental bold attempt to sign the best player in the world went unnoticed by pretty much everyone.