Mikel Obi and Lionel Messi forged a mini rivalry on the international stage since their days at the FIFA U20 World Cup, but they could have become teammates at Barcelona in 2006.
In 2006 Mikel was the subject of an international transfer storm between Manchester United and Chelsea, that required FIFA intervening.
The player will later sit out a whole year before he was eligible to play for Chelsea, after they won the tussle, but whilst that back and forth persisted, Barcelona were lurking.
Mikel himself revealed the Catalan club were a silent participant in the now infamous battle and were even willing to bring him to La Liga.
It coincided with the year Messi broke into the first team, signing his first contract as a senior team player at Camp Nou.
Speaking about the situation with Cliff Hayes [The Sun], the Nigerian midfielder said:
“I had Barca waiting to pounce if the legal wrangle couldn’t be sorted, but felt obliged to sign for Chelsea as they’d looked after me.”