Roman Abramovich ‘seriously tried’ to complete a sensational deal to bring Lionel Messi to Chelsea.
Speaking in a video on his YouTube channel, football journalist Fabrizio Romano discussed five huge transfers that Abramovich tried to pull off during his reign at Stamford Bridge.
And the Russian’s apparent attempts to sign Messi in 2014 was the headline-grabbing part of the video.
“It was not one step away but Chelsea were really trying to sign Leo Messi in 2014, with Jose Mourinho as the manager,” Romano revealed.
“They were really pushing and pushing on Leo Messi’s side to try to persuade him to try a Champions League experience.
“They [Chelsea] were contacting people close to Leo Messi, discussing with people and lawyers close to Messi to try to convince him for a new opportunity in the Premier League.
Messi deal collapsed
“Then everything collapsed simple because of Barcelona. Barcelona was something special for Lionel Messi.
“He decided together with his family to stay in Catalonia to continue his experience with Barcelona.
“But Roman Abramovich wanted Leo Messi. He was going seriously to try for Messi as the new star for Chelsea but the deal collapsed.
“What an incredible story it would have been to have Leo Messi in their team.”
What other players did Abramovich want?
If you don’t ask, you don’t get, eh Chelsea?
So, who were the other four players Abramovich wanted at Chelsea?
Romano: “Maybe the best left-back in the history of football. If not the best, one of the best.
“But really, what he did was impressive with Real Madrid, with the Brazil national team.
“But for Roberto Carlos in 2007, Chelsea were really, really close. I could say one step away from signing Roberto Carlos.
“But what happened? Roberto Carlos himself said in an interview that he had to decide between Chelsea and Fenerbahce after leaving Real Madrid. He was really close to joining Chelsea, he had the meeting with Chelsea’s board in London.
“But then everything collapsed because of the agreement missing with his lawyers. So there were some problems also on the salary and this is why everything collapsed at the final stages with Chelsea, and he accepted to join Fenerbahce as the final club of his European career.”
Romano: “Chelsea were close to signing Neymar.
“It was 2011. Neymar Jr. was 19 years old. He was playing for Santos, he was one of the best talents in South America. And Chelsea wanted to pay to sign Neymar immediately.
“So the strategy for Chelsea Football Club, from Roman Abramovich and from the board, was to sign Neymar immediately when he was 19 and not to wait one or two years before signing Neymar.
“Santos were not happy. They wanted the player to stay for one or two seasons and this is why the deal was not going through.
“Santos were able to resist to the proposals from Chelsea and to say ‘no’, to wait for Barcelona and they were able to complete the negotiation in 2013.
“Santos were happy. Neymar was happy, and this is why Barcelona was his pick and not Chelsea. But it was a real possibility for Chelsea Football Club.”
Romano: “Luka Modric, one day, was on the yacht of Roman Abramovich. A direct meeting, a face-to-face meeting between Luka Modric himself, not his agent, Luka himself with Roman Abramovich.
“They had the meeting in the summer of 2011. It was a serious possibility for Luka Modric to join Chelsea. He was really attracted. He was a Tottenham player, but Chelsea were tempting him with lots of money, an important contract, an important future.
“But Daniel Levy, Tottenham owner and chairman, said no to this possibility. He was the man who made the deal collapse and this is why Luka Modric was absolutely happy to join Real Madrid.
“Now he’s a Real Madrid legend. But Chelsea were seriously interested in signing Luka Modric.”
Romano: “Last summer, Jules Kounde and Chelsea were negotiating for many, many months. It started in June between Chelsea and Sevilla.
“The player wanted to join Chelsea – we are talking about a top centre-back – and they really wanted him to join Chelsea.
“Then they started the negotiation for a potential swap deal with Kurt Zouma or other players involved. The deal collapsed after three months negotiations.
“On deadline day Chelsea were trying again but no way with Sevilla. Sevilla were always so clear. They wanted €65 million or nothing for Kounde – Chelsea were offering around €55m including players in the negotiation.
“Emerson Palmieri, Kurt Zouma… no way for Sevilla.
“So maybe one of the last top signings for Roman Abramovich collapsed.”