LIONEL MESSI came incredibly close to joining Chelsea after a long phone call with Jose Mourinho, according to reports.
The Barcelona superstar had a heart-to-heart chat over the phone with The Special One over a potential Stamford Bridge move in 2004.
Sky Italia claim the conversation followed Mourinho’s incredible final season in charge of Porto ahead of his appointment as boss of the Blues.
Mourinho, then a rising managerial star, led the Portuguese giants to the 2004 Champions League final.
In May that year, they beat Didier Deschamps’ Monaco to claim the biggest prize in club football.
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A month later Mourinho, 57, now at Tottenham, went on to become the new boss of Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea.
And Sky Italia claim Messi, who turned 17 a month into the former Porto manager’s reign at Stamford Bridge, made his first attempt to try and leave Barcelona.
But a move never came to fruition and the Argentina playmaker went on to become one of the world’s greatest players, winning dozens of trophies under Pep Guardiola including four Champions League titles.
Over the summer the Argentina skipper, 33, made a very public attempt to leave the club a second time following Barcelona’s calamitous 2019-20 season.
Two managers – Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien – were sacked last term and the Nou Camp giants knocked out of the Champions League quarters following a humiliating 8-2 thumping from Bayern Munich.
However, Messi, who was strongly linked with a move to Guardiola’s Manchester City, decided to stay put with Ronald Koeman in place as his boss at Barca.
And his Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni insists he is happy the player opted to remain in Spain.
Scaloni said: "I spoke to Leo when everything was resolved and I saw him calm. He's now well in his club.
“For us, it's positive that he stayed because he was able to play immediately, he knows the club, but in terms of decisions, we don't get involved in that, we don't step in the player's territory.”
Meanwhile, Mourinho won three Premier League titles at Chelsea before going on to lead Inter Milan and Barcelona’s bitter rivals Real Madrid from 2008 to 2013.
The Special One endured a troubled spell in charge at Manchester United followed by a move to Tottenham, who thumped his old side 6-1 in their third league game this term.
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