Little Lleida came close to signing Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi eight years ago, it has been revealed.

In 2004, Lleida struck a partnership agreement with Barca and one of their first requests was the signing of a teenage Messi.

Negotiations were opened, says El Mundo Deportivo, though quickly brought to a halt by then sports director Txiki Begiristain, who was convinced of the Argentine's talent.

A year later, Messi was already playing regular first team football for Frank Rijkaard.