How Lionel Messi nearly signed for Italian club Como

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Genoa president Enrico Preziosi has revealed how close he came to signing Lionel Messi when he was in charge at Como.

Messi, now with Barcelona, is again making headlines this week with his four goal haul against Arsenal, leaving Preziosi to rue his decision not to sign him as a teenager.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Preziosi said: "When I was Como's president, we had Messi over for a trial. He was 15 and we rejected him.

"We had been following him since he was 14. He was a lad who was already a phenomenon even in those times. We decided not to sign him for the various situations in which Como found itself.

"As often happens, sometimes you make mistakes. But there isn't any regret."

He added: "When you sign a young lad, there is always a rigmarole even with regard to the parents. The club had to commit to doing certain things because he was a minor.

"Then we thought that we shouldn't sign him also because of the approach that we have in Italy, where we all too often aren't interested in following young players.

"Almost no one signs players like this in Italy, thinking about all the rigmarole it takes for them to become an important player and then to sign a contract as a professional."

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