By Danny Wright
Alex McLeish has revealed that Rangers once tried to sign Lionel Messia and Andres Iniesta from Barcelona.
The 58-year-old former Ibrox manager said that former Barca assistant boss Henk ten Cate recommended Iniesta to Gers just before he emerged on to the scene in 2004.
Rangers were looking for a creative midfielder to replace Barry Ferguson and McLeish’s assistant Jan Wouters used his wide range of contacts to try and unearth the next big thing.
Iniesta has gone on to make over 600 appearances for the La Liga giants winning eight league titles and four Champions Leagues as well as two European Championships and the World Cup win Spain.
McLeish also revealed that he enquired about a temporary move for a young Lionel Messi, to which the response was emphatic.
“We asked about bringing Messi to Rangers on loan [in 2004] and were told flatly: ‘No chance. Absolutely, no chance’,” the former Ibrox boss told the Daily Record.
The two went on to become mega stars at Barcelona, winning all there is before them.
“Rangers were downsizing and I needed players of quality, who could take the ball in midfield,” said McLeish to the Daily Record.
“Jan Wouters phoned Henk ten Cate, who was [Frank] Rijkaard’s assistant at Barcelona. Jan asked if there was anybody we could get and was told about a young kid called Iniesta.
“He was only 18 at the time. We asked if we could bring him to Scotland and were told that they would try and make some hay at Barcelona and get him over to us.
“They said Iniesta needed to get some action.”
Unfortunately for Rangers, the move never materialised as Wouters’ phone call sparked Rijkaard to call him up to the Barca first team.
The ex-Scotland manager led Gers to the domestic treble in 2002/03 and also won the league title on two occasions in his five year spell at Ibrox.
He was recently tipped with moving back to the Glasgow club in the wake of Mark Warburton’s departure, however Pedro Caixinha was hired last month to take the reins.
In other Rangers news, fans have reacted to Celtic’s reported interest in this 20-year-old.