Did you know Lionel Messi almost joined Espanyol? Mauricio Pochettino reveals

Lionel MessiDenis Doyle/Getty

Barcelona ace Lionel Messi moved to the Catalan side in 2001 as a 14-year-old, and then went on to script a fairytale career which brought him several personal and team trophies. But it could have all been different had the Argentine not put in a stellar performance in one junior match.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino recalls how talks between Barcelona and Espanyol were at an advanced stage for Messi to move to Espanyol, where Pochettino was a player and then later went on to become a manager.

The Spurs manager, whose side will face the Catalan giants at home on Wednesday, revealed that a brilliant performance by Messi in the Joan Gamper Trophy against Juventus led to Messi staying at the club – and the rest, as they say, is history.

"He (Messi) arrived when he was 13 years old, going from Argentina to Barcelona. Then I heard he was so close to signing for Espanyol – very close – in the season Barcelona played against Juventus under [Fabio] Capello in the Joan Gamper Cup.

"Because he was so fantastic in the Joan Gamper, Capello praised him afterwards and they changed the decision and kept Messi at Barcelona," said the Spurs manager.

Pochettino said that if Messi hadn't played in the Joan Gamper Cup, the little Argentine may have moved to Espanyol, where the Spurs manager was a player in the latter stages of his career and took on the role of manager of the Spanish side.

The Spurs manager will face Messi and co. on Wednesday night in the Champions League Group B clash. Spurs lost in the first game week of the Champions League to Inter Milan, as the Italian giants came from a goal down to defeat the English club.

Meanwhile, Barcelona have had a dip in form in La Liga, with two draws and one defeat in the last three games.

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