Former PSV chairman Rob Westerhof has revealed the Eredivisie side nearly signed Barcelona star Lionel Messi on loan in 2005.
The Argentine attacker had made his official Barca debut the previous season, but the fact he did not have a Spanish passport prompted the Catalans to try and look for a solution abroad as they could field three non-EU players.
“We’re talking about the spring of 2005. I had a pretty good relationship with Barcelona president Joan Laporta and he approached me during a G14 meeting,” Westerhof told Goal.com.
“He told me they had this successful young player called Messi, and wanted to ship him out on loan to us as Spanish regulations prevented him from playing for them.
“PSV had a pretty good reputation at the time. Guus Hiddink was our coach, we had just won the league title and made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League.”
The club’s technical staff eventually vetoed the transfer and Messi would go on to become a first team regular at Barcelona in the following season.
“We discussed it within the club and everybody was in favour of the move. We knew that he was an excellent player and there was no problem for us. We were enthusiastic about the signing of Messi,” Westerhof said.
“But when we then wanted to make a move, Laporta gave me a call. He told me the technical staff were against the transfer.
“I got the feeling (Frank) Rijkaard and (Henk) ten Cate would rather not see him move to Netherlands. They thought it was a bad idea to let him experience new things elsewhere and preferred to keep him somewhere close.
“Laporta and Txiki Begiristain thought PSV would be a good destination, but their staff didn’t support the idea.”
Messi became the first footballer ever to win the Ballon d’Or four times in succession earlier this week.