Glasgow Rangers aren’t the first club and they certainly won’t be the last to miss out on signing some of the best players in the world. In fact, we’d argue that every club has had their fair share of regrets in the transfer market.
But there is one player in particular that Rangers may forever regret not signing, the kind of transfer that fans will think about every now and then and ask themselves how did the board fail to get a deal done?
Steven Gerrard had been pushing hard to land a playmaker before the summer transfer window slammed shut. It’s claimed that the Rangers boss considered bringing Preston North End midfielder Daniel Johnson to the Ibrox Stadium, but Alex Neil insisted he would stay at Deepdale, and he was forced to try his luck elsewhere.
Instead, the former England international ended up signing Bongani Zungu on a season-long loan from Amiens. Whilst we aren’t for one minute suggesting that signing Zungu is a mistake, it may very well have worked out very differently for the Gers if they had managed to get their hands on the one and only Lionel Messi instead!
That’s right folks, your eyes aren’t deceiving you – the Gers even enquired about a teenage Messi back in 2004 but to no avail.
According to The Daily Record, Alex McLeish allegedly tried to sign the Argentina international on a loan deal from Barcelona. But the former Rangers boss was told in no uncertain terms to find another replacement for Barry Ferguson, who had moved to Blackburn, and came close to signing Andres Iniesta instead.
He told Graham Hunter: “We asked about bringing Messi to Rangers on loan [in 2004] and were told flatly: ‘No chance. Absolutely, no chance’.”
Messi is often considered to be the best player in the world and widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’ll know exactly who he is, and that’s without even looking at his long list of achievements.
635 goals and 279 assists in 735 games for Barca, ten La Liga titles, six Ballon d’Or awards, four Champions League trophies, one Olympic gold medal – you get the idea.
Whilst we will probably never know how well he would have adapted to life in the Scottish Premiership, it’s safe to say he would’ve scored goals galore and created passes aplenty, but he might not have enjoyed his time at the Ibrox outfit.
The 33-year-old famously criticised the “anti-football” tactics the Gers used to their advantage during the goalless draw between the two sides in the Champions League three years later.
Messi was quoted by The Guardian’s Ewan Murray 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.”
Steven Gerrard once claimed that Joe Cole was better than Messi. But it’s safe to say that the Rangers boss would have secretly relished the chance to work with the £90m-rated midfield maestro, who was called a “magician” by former Manchester City defender Micah Richards.
This is one of those transfers that every fan dreams about from time to time. Just imagine how much chaos he would have caused in the Old Firm derbies – it almost doesn’t bear to think about.
AND in other news, Glasgow Rangers’ Glen Kamara dominates midfield battle in Old Firm derby…