Former Inter president Massimo Moratti revealed that the club attempted to signing a teenage Lionel Messi, as well as his teammate Andres Iniesta.
Moratti was the club's chairman from 1995 to 2013, and, in a recent interview with Corriere della Sera, the 73-year-old revealed his biggest missed opportunities in the transfer market, including when a certain young Argentine evaded his grasp.
Moratti explained why the move never materialised, by saying: “We started to watch Messi at the U18 World Cup.
“We started the charge; our mission in Spain. My scouts came back and told me about the difficulties of his health and the commitment of Barcelona, of the dedication to solve those problems. I said to leave it alone. I swear they were taking care of Messi like a father with his son.”
Moratti also revealed an ill-fated move for Messi's Barça teammate Andres Iniesta, who the Catalans deemed irreplaceable.
He revealed: “Failed purchases? In a sense there was Iniesta.
“But it was immediately closed completely. Not from the player, we did not even get to him. I met the management of Barcelona and we had the economic and persuasive force. I talked about a lot of players but when I mentioned the name of Iniesta, the attitude changed radically. I could have made any offer and it would have been useless. They would never sell him.”
And that was not all, there were also transfer near-misses involving Pirlo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic following their moves from Milan and Barcelona respectively.
"With Pirlo, when he went from Milan to Juventus [in 2011], there was more than one corner to be turned for a return to Inter," Marotti admitted. "But nothing came of it."
"Ibrahimovic, when he passed from Barcelona to Milan, called me.
“He confessed to the beginning of a negotiation and, with a gesture that I greatly appreciated, told me that if I had advanced a counter offer, he would have chosen us. But, as I say, things were already in motion and it did not make sense to force events.”