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Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi was nearly sold to a European rival in 2006

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A question we've all asked ourselves in the last few years is, how much is Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi worth?

With players like John Stones and Raheem Sterling going for near enough £50m, it would not be rude to assume that the finest player to grace the game could still command a fee of around £200m, perhaps one even higher a few years back.

The 29-year-old has sporadically been linked with moves way from the Blaugrana but it seems as if he is destined to play his entire career in Catalunya.

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However, it seems that in 2006, when Messi was first making his name on the scene, Inter Milan were very close to signing him after activating his £130m release clause.

Back then, a fee of that size was unheard of and many were still blown away when Real Madrid paid £80m for Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009, but the scenario with the Argentine nearly happened.

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The story surfaced after The Guardian spoke to former Barca president Joan Laporta and asked him if he was ever close to parting ways with Messi.

He said: “It was 2006 when Inter made an offer.

“They were prepared to pay the €150m buy-out clause, which is why we [later] raised it to €250m, but I always felt reassured by my relationship with his dad, Jorge.

Real Madrid v Barcelona

“I told him: ‘They’ll have to pay the clause because I won’t sell. He’ll be happy here, he’ll get glory. There, he’ll only win financially. Your son’s destined to be the greatest in history and here he’ll have a team to help get there. He’ll enjoy it’.”

He added: “I’m very Cruyffista but what Leo does – and I talked about this a lot with Johan – makes him the best in history. Johan said so too.

“Messi’s football is beautiful and effective. For me the best ever are Cruyff, Maradona and Messi. Leo’s a mix of Cruyff and Maradona, but he is Leo Messi.”

Deportivo Alaves vs Barcelona - Copa Del Rey Final

If it had happened, Inter may have become a consistent force in Europe - they did win the treble in 2010 - while Barca surely would never have been as successful without their little magician.

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