Inter President Massimo Moratti attempted to snap up Lionel Messi when he was in Barcelona's youth side, the patron told fans during an interview last night.
The revelation came during a lengthy interview with the Inter Channel, during which Moratti discussed various issues, including his relationship with the fans and Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir, to whom he has agreed to sell 70 percent of the club.
"Messi was still a little boy when I saw him for the first time," Moratti recalled. "I said that he was very good. He still remembers it and from time to time sends me a signed shirt.
"But we couldn't pull off a deal like the one for Ronaldo. We tried to get Messi but he is sincerely tied to Barcelona who helped him get where he is."
Moratti sought to address any concerns the Inter fans may have about the intentions of new owner Thohir and his fellow Indonesian investors.
"They may not have 50 years of Inter history behind them but when you become President you very quickly become a fan because of how much you go through," he insisted.
"They have the sensitivity to understand the club. Thohir is a cheerful, nice, uncomplicated man - he's ambitious and a hard worker."
Despite having something of a tempestuous relationship with the tifosi, Moratti concluded with some kind words for the Inter fans
"The fans have always been affectionate and understanding towards me," he said. "What marks Inter out is the spirit of the fans.
"When I arrived they told me not to sign black players. Instead I signed Paul Ince and the fans' response was fantastic. He was one of the players they adored most."
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