Lionel Messi’s departure from Barcelona has started many speculations connecting him to many top clubs all around Europe. But one of the clubs that seem to have slipped under the radar is the reigning European Champions Chelsea.
The London-based club Chelsea FC is currently being managed by the German manager Thomas Tuchel. Chelsea arguably has one of the best and the largest squads in world football but surely if needed they can make space for one of the best players to ever play the game, can’t they? Well during the peak of his powers there was a time that Lionel Messi could have almost moved to the London-based side. Let’s take you back to that fateful transfer window
Lionel Messi to Chelsea, a move that can possibly on the cards
Summer transfer window 2013:
At the end of the 2012/13 season, Barça were reigning champions of Spain but had suffered a humiliating 7-0 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Seeing all the debacle that had ensued, Sports manufacturing giants Adidas wanted to make the most of it.
As Lionel Messi is an Adidas athlete, the German sports brand manufacturer wanted Lionel Messi to transfer to a club that wears the Adidas kit. They narrowed it down to two potential options, Real Madrid and Chelsea given the international market. But as everyone knew Real Madrid won’t work out they narrowed Chelsea to be the most potent option.
According to the Spanish Newspaper Mundo Deportivo, they agreed to pay the €120 million buyout clause of Lionel Messi, but talks broke down as Lionel Messi ultimately chose to stay put at Barcelona. Another factor in this was that Chelsea and Barcelona didn’t have the friendliest relationship at that time plus the club was being managed by Jose Mourinho at that time. So all these factors would have been part of the decision.
Talking about the Chelsea-Barcelona relationship. Things took a bad turn after a Semi-final match between the two clubs in the UEFA Champions League semi-final stage in 2006.
The 2006 Semi final at Stamford bridge
The first leg of the Semi-Final was played in Camp Nou and it finished in a goalless draw. The return leg played at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea’s home ground was marred with great controversy.
Tom Ovrebo was the referee on that fateful night, And he made a lot of critical errors favoring FC Barcelona. The aftermath was so bad that the Norwegian Referee had to go into hiding as he was constantly receiving death threats after the game.
On that night, Chelsea had four claims of a penalty but they were all denied by the referee. The Chelsea players were absolutely livid with the referee with Michael Ballack even chasing him after one of the claims was waived off. What irked Chelsea, even more, was that Barça made it through on away goals with a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
The image of the match is arguably that of Didier Drogba screaming at the camera’s “It’s a Disgrace, Its a f****** Disgrace!” referencing how bad the decisions were on that night.
Barcelona would go on to win the Champions League that year beating Arsenal in the finals.
2012 Champions league semi finals:
The two clubs again met in the semifinals in the 2011-12 season. This time Chelsea did pip Barcelona at the Camp Nou, going into the finals and beating Bayern in the penalty shootout. Hence, winning their first Champions League title.
Key fact: Messi had not scored against a Chelsea goalkeeper (former or current) until he finally scored against Peter Cech in the Champions league game against Arsenal in 2016
Fast forward to 2021, today Messi is without a club. The Blues can be one of the options that Messi can consider, but his arrival at Chelsea is not very likely at the moment. But in football everything is possible, The Blues have a talented young squad and Messi’s arrival would certainly boost it even more as they set out to defend their European crown in the 2021-22 season.
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