Spanish giants Real Madrid attempted to sign Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi in 2013 and were willing to pay the attacker's €250m release clause.
According to Der Spiegel (H/T Marca) Messi's lawyer told the player's father, Jorge Messi, of Real's interest.
Los Blancos turned to Bale after their attempts failed, bringing the Welshman in from Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur for a then world-record fee of €100.8m.
Madrid were reportedly ready to pay the Argentinian €23m per year, and his father Jorge a further €1m.
The club have since denied any such offers or negotiations. Yet Der Spiegel claim that a meeting between Messi, his then lawyer, Florentino Perez, then sports director, Miguel Pardeza, and a lawyer from Madrid was set for a private jet. Said meeting likely never took place, but the outlet insist that it was in the making.
Der Spiegel has revealed that before signing Gareth Bale, Real Madrid contacted Messi’s entourage to offer to pay his €250m release clause, plus a €23m salary until 2021, and that the club was committed to pressure Spain’s Prime Minister to make Messi’s tax problems go away.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) January 12, 2018
There are also sensational claims of Madrid offering to 'put pressure' on a certain government official in order to make all of Messi's tax problems go away.
The player has since been charged and convicted of tax fraud in Spain, and was made to pay several millions back to the Spanish tax authorities.
In a separate report, Der Spiegel note that the player also paid a €12m settlement in 2016 in order to avoid another trial after he hired an adviser to perform a personal audit.
He was urged to pay the aforementioned sum by said adviser, but Football Leaks claim that the sum did not come out of Messi's pocket, as Barcelona took care of it.