Let's have a bit of fun in honor of April Fools' Day.
Keep dreaming, Madridistas. Only Photoshop will make that come true. Messi is ours!
Now that I got your attention, let's take a look at some true stories of "What Could Have Been?" for FC Barcelona and some of their players. Some of these sound like an April Fools' joke, but they are no lie.
Some of the topics include:
Mario Balotelli's trial at Barcelona.
Andres Iniesta's former love of Real Madrid.
Cristiano Ronaldo being offered to Barça.
Lionel Messi: the Spanish National Team player?
No, this is not Photoshopped.
In 2008, Luka Modric was rumored to be heading to FC Barcelona. To try and motivate Luka to demand a move to Catalunya, Barcelona newspaper MundoDeportivo.com presented the Croatian with a personalized Barça kit.
Thus, when this photo was taken.
Luka never made it to Barcelona, and it was for the best. Barça had, and still has, the best midfield in the world, and Modric was never truly needed.
Modric went to Real Madrid last year.
YahooSports.com did a story on Luka's move last year. Columnist Brooks Peck put it best when he wrote this:
And two years later (2010), when Modric was linked to Barcelona again, the Croatian midfielder said, "I like being placed in that context, in the context of a player who can play for the best club in the world."
It seems Luka Modric's primary criteria for deciding the "best club in the world" is whether a given club is interested in Luka Modric. Unless that club is Tottenham (sad trombone).
Did you know that one of the most beloved Barcelona players used to love Real Madrid?
Take a look at this video of a young Andres Iniesta being interviewed by Spanish TV. At 0:10, Iniesta says (in Spanish) that he was a fan of Real Madrid before joining La Masia.
Thankfully, Barcelona brought the future Don Andres to Catalunya.
I think this video should be destroyed, and never spoken of again.
Mario Balotelli, in blaugrana?
Yup. It happened for a week.
In 2006, Mario was brought in to Barcelona to try out with the Cadet side. According to legend (and Sport.es), Super Mario impressed the Catalans, and was going to be signed by the club. But Balotelli's agent at the time had too many demands that the club was not willing to accept.
So, Balotelli headed back to Italy, and was eventually signed by Inter Milan.
Would it have been nice to see Mario Balotelli play alongside Lionel Messi, Xavi and others?
But his attitude, ego, and tendency to be a loner would have been a disaster in the locker room. It was for the best for both sides to move on.
But this picture of Balotelli in a Barça training shirt is one for the ages.
The Spanish National Team of this generation (2008-present) is one of the greatest squads in football history. Some people say it's essentially like FC Barcelona minus Lionel Messi.
But imagine if La Furia Roja had Messi on the team. It actually could have happened.
Messi moved to Catalunya at age 13 from Argentina. After a few years, Leo was offered an opportunity to play with the Spanish U-20 National Team.
Leo declined, and waited until the Argentine National Team to call up, which they did a short while later.
I commend Leo for waiting for his homeland to call up, but just imagine what could have been if Messi would have said yes to La Furia Roja?
I'm sure David Villa or Fernando Torres doesn't want to imagine that.
Messi would already have a World Cup title, and perhaps most of his critics would be quiet now.
In an interview with TyC Sports (Argentina, via Goal.com), Messi said joining the Spanish National Team was never an option for him.
"I would have never chosen to play for Spain because I am Argentine. It is true that in Spain I have been treated very well, but let's not forget that I have been living almost the same amount of time in Barcelona as in Argentina and that splits your heart in two," said Messi.
"That, however, can never change your colors."
Leo Messi is 100 percent Argentine. He won't be satisfied until he brings his country a third Copa del Mundo to the streets of Rosario and Buenos Aires.
Ronaldinho was perhaps the biggest signing FC Barcelona has made in the past 25 years. He was simply brilliant in blaugrana.
But did you know he was not then-Barcelona president Joan Laporta's first choice in 2003?
Laporta wanted David Beckham to join el blaugrana first, and not Dinho.
According to SI.com back in 2003, Manchester United and FC Barcelona had reached an agreement to buy Becks for around $50 million. But the deal fell through, and Florentino Perez snatched up a new galactico for £24.5m. Perez was interested in signing Dinho as well, but opted for Beckham because he "fit the image of Real Madrid"—whatever that means.
One month later, Joan Laporta signed Ronaldinho from Paris Saint-Germain for €30 million.
In the end, it turned out for the best.
Madrid got a player who fit their mentality. While Barça got a revolutionary player, and one of the greatest players of his generation.
I say score one for FC Barcelona.
Photo courtesy of tribalfootball.com
Could you imagine Cristiano Ronaldo at the left wing position and Lionel Messi at the right wing position at FC Barcelona?
It could have happened.
Back in 2003, CR7 was offered to Barça by his then club, Sporting Lisbon.
In an interview with Ondo Cero radio (via Goal.com), former Barça president Joan Laporta said Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, offered Cristiano's services to the Catalans in 2003.
"Mendes offered us Cristiano Ronaldo when he was still under contract with Sporting. We worked with Jorge quite a lot back then," said Laporta.
So why did Barcelona not sign Cristiano Ronaldo?
"We could have got Ronaldo for a lower price than Manchester United eventually paid for him. However, we had just signed Ronaldinho, Ricardo Quaresma and Rafael Marquez, and we lacked the financial resources to make another signing."
Makes you think, "What could have been?" A Messi/Ronaldo combination might have been in our future.
Laporta also stated that Kaká was nearly at Barcelona as well, as AC Milan offered a Ronaldinho-for-Kaká deal.
"We had dinner with Silvio Berlusconi, and he proposed a player-exchange deal involving Kaká and Ronaldinho. That was not an option for us, though, as Ronaldinho was a key player for us back then.
"It started out as a bit of a joke, but Berlusconi quickly turned serious. It's a real shame that Kaká has not really succeeded at Madrid. He was a fantastic player at AC Milan."
Yes, it is a shame what has happened to Kaká.
Brazilian superstar Neymar will be heading to Europe soon. The team that is looking more and more likely to receive his services is FC Barcelona.
On Monday, Le Sport 10 (via TribalFootball.com) reported that Neymar has told Santos FC that he will only leave for FC Barcelona.
Neymar rejected a contract extension with Santos last week as well.
While Neymar may be wearing blaugrana next season, a few years ago, Neymar was on the verge of wearing the blanco of Real Madrid.
In an interview with FIFA.com last year, former Real Madrid player and football legend Roberto Carlos told the website that around 2006, a then-14-year-old Neymar traveled to Spain to visit Real Madrid.
"I first met Neymar when he was 14, when he came to Spain to have a look around at Real Madrid," said Roberto Carlos. "You could definitely tell then and from watching videos of him that he could play a bit."
Neymar spent two weeks at Madrid. And as we all know, Neymar never went back to Spain, as he stayed at Santos.
Madrid nearly had the Brazilian wonderkid in their hands, but for whatever reason, they weren't able to sign Neymar.
Real Madrid not being able to sign Neymar back in 2006 could end up being one of the most influential things to happen to FC Barcelona's future if he is signed.
Let's hope Neymar will become Lionel Messi's teammate soon.
Xoel, The Voice of FC Barcelona.
Follow me on Twitter for continuous Barça news, live tweets of every game and your questions answered.