Lionel Messi could have left Barcelona in the summer transfer window, or so reports claim, as adidas hatched a plan to lure the Argentina international to either Chelsea, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid.
Mundo Deportivo report that adidas made clear to their three top European clients that they would offer to pay half of Messi's £210 million in the hope of prising the player away from their chief rivals, Nike.
Messi, his representatives and Barcelona are all reported to have been aware of the intentions of adidas, and the actions of his lead sponsor should rightfully infuriate the Barcelona forward, who has always maintained his unwavering commitment to Barcelona.
Adidas' desire is understandable - how it must wrangle with them to see their most high-profile footballer emblazoned by the swoosh of Nike every time he takes to the field of play with Barcelona. But their arrogance is astonishing, believing they could affect the future of Messi by funding another club to snatch him from a team he had no desire of leaving.
Messi is entrenched in the ideals of Barcelona and preserves a relationship with the club that the most excessive of financial reward cannot extinguish, and adidas are ill-advised at best to attempt to disrupt the status quo.
Although inevitably futile, trying to force Messi into the clutches of Chelsea, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid, could have fairly caused irrevocable damage between the player and his sponsor, and led him straight into Nike's welcoming bosom.
While potential moves to Chelsea or Bayern make marketable sense for adidas in an attempt to develop their brand in other leagues, encouraging Madrid to bid for Messi is quite staggering.
It is a dog eat dog world in both marketing and sport, of course, but the social unrest such a transfer would cause should alone be enough for even the most ruthless of accountants to display some compassion.
Adidas played a dangerous game by seeking out Chelsea, Bayern and Madrid this summer, and should count themselves fortunate that Messi is willing to remain part of their roster of stars.
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