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One that got away: Rangers and Lionel Messi

This article forms part of our The Ones That Got Away feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern take a look back at players linked with moves in the past, and see how they would have made an impact had they signed for the interested side.

Rangers are not the only side to have missed out on big-name signings in the past and will not be the last to miss out on potential superstars, however the Light Blues may have lost out on bringing one of the game’s biggest superstars in recent history.

Steven Gerrard has been searching for a “quality” addition in recent weeks (per Football Insider) and is thought to have been looking at bringing former Juventus legend Claudio Marchisio to Ibrox, although a move appeared to collapse because of alleged wage demands.

The former Liverpool and England international star is not the only manager that Rangers have had to have a desire to bring a star to Glasgow though, although whether Alex McLeish knew exactly who he was trying to acquire at the time would be, perhaps, questionable at the very least.

One that got away – Lionel Messi and Rangers

McLeish allegedly tried to bring the one and only Lionel Messi to Rangers!

According to comments made by the former Gers boss, as relayed by The Daily Record, the Scot tried to bring the Argentine superstar to Ibrox back in 2004 on a loan deal from Barcelona, however the Catalan giants simply were not going to allow him to leave the Camp Nou.

“We asked about bringing Messi to Rangers on loan [in 2004] and were told flatly: ‘No chance. Absolutely, no chance’,” he revealed to Graham Hunter.

Messi is, obviously, a man that needs no introduction, although his stats as a Barcelona player are always something to marvel over – 603 goals in 690 appearances, as well as 243 assists (Transfermarkt) are just incredible.

It is difficult to imply whether or not the 32-year-old would have thrived in Scotland if he were to have spent time on loan at Rangers, although there might be a suggestion that he may not have enjoyed being at the club.

In 2007, the Argentine attacked the way the Gers played and described the football under Walter Smith as ‘anti-football’ following the scoreless draw between the two sides.

Messi was quoted by The Guardian as saying: “It’s incredible. Rangers didn’t want to play football. Right from the start they went for anti-football and I’m left with a bitter taste in the mouth at not having been able to win the match because we had a decent number of chances. All we lacked was the finish.

“It’s a real pain playing against teams like that and it’s very hard too. It’ll be different at the Camp Nou.”

However, it would seem McLeish’s men did not miss having Messi in their side for that season as they managed to pip Old Firm rivals Celtic to the title by one point in the 2004/05 campaign, with the likes of Nacho Novo and Dado Prso leading the way for the Gers.

Indeed, Gerrard would certainly love a player of the six-time Ballon d’Or winner‘s quality at Ibrox available to him as he looks to finally provide Rangers with their 55th Scottish top-flight title.

Rangers fans, what do you make of the club trying to sign Messi back in 2004? Do you think he would have thrived at Ibrox as he has at Barcelona? Let us know your thoughts by sharing them in the comments section below!

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One that got away: Rangers and Lionel Messi
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