Joan Laporta has claimed that Inter tried to sign Lionel Messi for €250 million (£225m/$300m) back in 2006, but he ultimately managed to convince him to stay at Barcelona to "make history".
Messi enjoyed a meteoric rise to stardom at Camp Nou after graduating to Barca's senior squad in 2004.
The Argentine made his debut at the age of 17, and opened his scoring account for the club with a delightful chip after being teed up by Ronaldinho in a clash with Albacete towards the end of his first season in Frank Rijkaard's set-up.
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He soon became a regular in Barca's starting XI, attracting attention from top clubs across Europe in the process, including Italian giants Inter.
Laporta, who served as club president at Camp Nou between 2003 and 2010, says the Nerazzurri submitted a world-record offer for Messi when he was still a teenager, but he never considered selling a man who had already shown incredible potential.
"He always had offers: in 2006 Moratti gave me 250 million and said no, there I saw the esteem of Messi and his family for Barcelona," the 58-year-old said at a press conference announcing his candidacy for the next set of presidential elections in January.
"His father asked me what I would do as a father and I told him, that the best thing was to stay, I told him that we would make a team that would accompany him to achieve the greatest successes, that would touch the glory and make history. I saw his love for the club, the city and country."
Messi has gone on to score a total of 641 goals in 743 appearances for Barca in total, winning 10 Liga titles, four Champions League crowns and six Ballon d'Or awards along the way.
The Argentina international did, however, push for a transfer away from Camp Nou in the summer after a disastrous 2019-20 season, before performing a U-turn on his future which eventually led to the resignation of former president Josep Maria Bartomeu and his entire board.
Laporta says his main goal is to lift to the mood of gloom surrounding the club if he is elected to replace Bartomeu, and that he has already drawn up a solid plan to bring back a harmonious atmosphere on and off the pitch.
“I’m running for elections because I love the club,” he said. “We have the preparation, experience and determination necessary for the changes that the club need. We have a plan. The plan is to work.
“I want to unite all Barca fans. This is not the time to reproach or look back. In the Barca that we propose, everyone fits. Our plan is to bring back happiness to the people. It’s not a simple election promise. It’s an ethical, civic, moral, social and united commitment.”