The 32-year-old Argentine, who has gone on to become recognised as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, winning six Ballon d’Or titles, was only 21 when the Italian side tried to snaffle him away from the team he has become so closely associated with.
Branca has revealed that Inter “went all out” to sign the record-breaking attacker, even offering him better terms than he was getting at Camp Nou.
“Yes, we moved for him but Leo did not want to leave Barcelona,” Branca revealed to Libero. “He was very grateful to the club. Money does not always come first.”
Branca worked with Inter after his playing career from 2002 until February 2014, signing the likes of Diego Milito, Samuel Eto’o and Wesley Sneijder at San Siro.
Meanwhile, former Inter president Massimo Moratti has backed that story up recently.
“He’s everyone’s dream but he will not leave Barcelona,” Moratti said. “He’s still the greatest player of all.”
Two years after their failed bid for the Argentine, Inter won the treble under the guidance of Jose Mourinho, notably beating Barca over two legs en route to the final of the Champions League, in which they overcame Bayern Munich 2-0 thanks to a pair of goals from Milito.
Branca revealed the secret of that success in the transfer market.
“We sign angry players because they were rejected by their previous clubs,” he said, including in that number Eto’o, who replaced Zlatan Ibrahimovic at San Siro.
“Ibra told us that he no longer had the serenity necessary to continue. We listened to him and looked for the ideal solution for everyone. And then we had Eto’o.”
Meanwhile, Branca said that he does not know the status of the Lautaro Martinez deal, with the current Inter forward closely linked with a summer switch to Barcelona
“I’ve read that Messi wants him to sign with Barca, but I don’t know the situation and so I can’t offer an opinion,” Branca said.