Diego Simeone encouraged Luis Suarez to approach Lionel Messi about the prospect of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner joining Atletico Madrid before joining PSG.
Messi joined for PSG on a free transfer in August after the Blaugrana were unable to re-sign the club legend owing to wage budget restrictions.
Suarez, who was shockingly permitted to join Atletico Madrid last year after being judged surplus to requirements by Ronald Koeman, developed a close connection with Messi both on and off the field during their six years at Camp Nou.
Suarez and Neymar created a lethal attacking combination, and Suarez helped Argentina captain Messi 47 times – five more than any other player to play alongside Messi at Barcelona.
Similarly, Messi set up more goals for Suarez (39) than any other player, with Jordi Alba coming in second with 20.
They combined for 66 goals in LaLiga, making them the most dangerous combo this century — Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema (44) are second.
Simeone also said that he sought to re-team Suarez and Messi when the Barcelona star became available following his departure.
“I’ll give you a specific example… “With what occurred in Barcelona, we phoned Luis [Suarez],” Simeone said when asked about a possible transfer for his compatriot.
“With all due respect, I didn’t contact Leo [Messi], but I did phone Luis to see how Messi was doing, if he was keen, or if there was even a remote chance he’d come to Atletico.”
However, as Simeone said, the quest to sign the 34-year-old ended abruptly: “[It was] something that lasted three hours, since PSG was already fasc
inated with that [signing].”
It would have been strange for Simeone
and the club’s supporters to see Messi line out for Atletico, considering that Los Colchoneros were among Messi’s favorite opponents during his time in Spain, with his 32 goals against them second only to the 38 he scored against Sevilla.
As a result, Simeone is well aware of Messi’s abilities. But, true to style, Atletico’s head coach claimed that even if he had pulled off such a feat, the focus would have remained on the collective effort.
“He was always at Barcelona, I was always at Atletico [during Messi’s career], and we didn’t coincide as national team players,” he went on to say. “But, if you ask me where Messi should play, I tell you with a squad that wants to win and knows what it needs to do to win.”
“It makes no difference where he plays; what matters is that the squad is prepared to win.” Think on the team, not about him.”