Diego Simeone asked Luis Suarez to contact Lionel Messi regarding the possibility of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner joining Atletico Madrid prior to signing for Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi ended a 21-year spell with Barcelona in August as he signed for PSG on a free transfer after the Blaugrana were unable to re-sign the club great due to salary cap restrictions.
Suarez, who Barca surprisingly allowed to join Atletico last year after being deemed surplus to requirements by Ronald Koeman, formed a deep relationship on and off the pitch with Messi during their six years together at Camp Nou.
The pair formed a scintillating attacking trio with Neymar, and Suarez assisted the Argentina captain 47 times – five more than any other player to feature with Messi at Barca.
And Simeone revealed he attempted to partner Suarez and Messi again when the Barca legend became available following confirmation of his departure.
“I’ll tell you a detail… With what happened in Barcelona, we called Luis [Suarez],” Simeone told Argentine outlet Ole when asked about any potential move for his compatriot.
“With all due respect, I didn’t call Leo [Messi], but I did call Luis to ask how Messi was doing, if he was eager or if there was a slight possibility that he would come to Atletico.”
However, the mission to secure the 34-year-old came to an abrupt end, as Simeone explained: “[It was] something that lasted three hours because PSG was already obsessed with that [signing].”
It would have been a peculiar feeling for Simeone and the club’s fans to see Messi lining up for Atletico, given Los Colchoneros were among Messi’s favorite opponents during his time in Spain – his 32 goals against them second only to the 38 plundered in clashes with Sevilla.
Therefore, Simeone knows first-hand the quality Messi possesses. But, true to form, the Atletico head coach insisted the focus would have remained on the team effort even if he had pulled off such a coup.
“He was always at Barcelona, I was always at Atletico [during Messi’s career] and we didn’t coincide as players in the national team,” he continued. “But to me, if you ask me where Messi has to play, I tell you in a team that wants to win, in a team that knows what it has to do to win.
“It doesn’t matter where he plays, it matters that the team is prepared to win. Don’t think about him, think about the team.”