Conspiracy Between Celtic And Barca Cruelly Ends Messi’s Ibrox Dream: An Exclusive By Keith Jackass.
There is disappointment, but great pride, at Ibrox tonight after they were informed, this morning, that Lionel Messi would be staying at Barcelona instead of moving to Glasgow to play in Steven Gerrard’s trophy winning squad.
The board had believed Messi was ready to commit the last years of his career to the club, but the intransigence of the Catalan giants, who have long standing links with Celtic, have ended the dreams of both the Ibrox faithful and the player himself.
Messi, who would have moved to Ibrox before had Barcelona not refused to send him there on loan, has long harboured dreams of playing in the famous Rangers blue.
He once described Walter Smith’s team as practitioners of “anti-football” but has been impressed by the performances of the current side under his idol Steven Gerrard.
Messi, who is known to have had Subutteo figures in blue shirts – an obvious reference to Rangers – has alwasy been one of Gerrard’s most vocal fans.
“Everyone knows Messi worships the gaffer and based his style of play on him,” an Ibrox source told us last night.
“Okay, they play in different positions, have totally different philosophies and Messi is only a few years younger … but Gerrard taught him everything he knows. Messi would have walked over broken glass to play under him, but the hierarchies at Barcelona and Celtic Park obviously got together and decided that it was a non-starter.”
For the first time since Messi formally demanded a transfer, this newspaper can – exclusively – reveal that the Ibrox club had been in advanced talks with his agents about a free-transfer move which would have stunned world football and delivered the greatest player in history to Glasgow.
Celtic, who had caught wind of these ambitious moves, hurried, in the last week, to close deals for Turnbull and Duffy in the expectation that a major announcement was coming across the city.
The Parkhead boardroom can breathe more easily tonight.
We spoke to a source at Celtic Park, who would only let us call him P, who confirmed this evening that everyone at the club had been bracing themselves for the arrival of Messi at their rivals, who already have one up on Celtic after their stunning victory in a French pre-season competion, which snatched silverware from Neil Lennon’s hands and put it in those of the upwardly mobile Gerrard.
“Yes,” the Parkhead source told this writer, “and we were going to respond by unveiling Mbappe.”
When pressed for further details, the source told this journalist to “get off the hard stuff and back onto lager.”
One hope does remain that Gerrard can close this deal, and that’s if a series of offers come in for the likes of Brandon Barker, Jordan Jones and Alfredo Morelos.
“Messi has confirmed that Barcelona will let him go if a club meets his release clause, which stands at £700 million. So as long as we can get good money for the people we sell we’re all confident that we’ve still got a chance to put something together,” the Ibrox source told us.
“We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this deal isn’t dead yet.”
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