Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has denied reports that the club were in the running to sign Lionel Messi, admitting that they never had a hope of landing El Cholo’s compatriot from Barcelona.
While Messi has been reunited with one-third of the famous MSN partnership at Paris Saint-Germain in Neymar, there was speculation that Luis Suarez could be the one lining up alongside him for the 2021-22 season.
Simeone, quickly poured cold water on those rumours and affirmed there was no contact between Atletico and the Argentina international.
“You can see that Barcelona’s situation caused this exit and that it was huge for our league because of the standing Messi has in La Liga and in Barcelona, It is clear that we were not talking to him and did not have the slightest chance of taking him.
Simeone explained to reporters in a press conference held on Saturday.
La Liga is now without both Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, two figures that have symbolised the Spanish top flight over the last decade and a half but Simeone, though, believes there is life after the megastars, pointing to the Premier League to show that the world does not have to stop just because the perennial Ballon d’Or contenders are elsewhere.
“I understand that in the English league Messi and Ronaldo are not there either and it is one of the biggest leagues in the world,” he added.
“It will be every team’s competitiveness and growth, without Messi and Ronaldo, that makes this a competitive league, just like in England which has neither of the pair.”
Atletico celebrated last season as they clinched the Liga title, the second in Simeone’s 10-year stint at the Colchonero helm.
Simeone was nevertheless typically blunt as he refused to look ahead to the prospect of repeating that feat in 2021-22.
“We will not change our approach, which is to take things one game at a time, to see what path the league takes, there is no better way to compete than how we have been doing for the last nine and a half years.” the coach said.