Real Madrid president Florentino Perez admitted the Spanish and European champions would have loved to sign Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Messi, 29, has established himself as one of the greatest ever players since emerging from Barca’s youth system in 2004, winning five Ballon d’Or, eight LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns among other trophies.

And Perez said it would have been a dream to bring Messi to the Santiago Bernabeu, had it not been for Barca’s early recruitment of the Argentina star, who moved to Camp Nou as a 13-year-old.

“Of course we would have loved to have had Messi at Madrid,” Perez told Onda Cero, already boasting four-time Ballon d’Or winner and all-time leading goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo. 

“But he was in the Barca youth team so it could never have happened!”

Messi enjoyed another fine campaign at Camp Nou, scoring 54 goals in all competitions as Barca were dethroned by Madrid in LaLiga and lost in the Champions League quarter-finals.

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