Paris Saint-Germain manager Mauricio Pochettino has admitted he thought it was a joke when the club’s sporting director Leonardo told him they were signing Lionel Messi.
The Argentine superstar , 34, joined the French giants in August after he was reluctantly released by cash-strapped Barcelona .
As quoted by Spanish outlet A Bola , Pochettino said: “Leonardo called me and said, ‘There is the possibility of signing Messi, like it or not?’ And I thought, ‘Is this a joke? Is it really a question?’
“And I just answered, ‘But do I need to go get him, drive the van, or what?’ And then the process began.
“Every night Leonardo called to say how the process was. I have to congratulate Leonardo, because everything was very quick – two or three days to sign the best player in the world.”
Messi has experienced a slow start to life at PSG, scoring just once in his five appearances to date – although that was a stunner against Manchester City in the Champions League.
The Barcelona legend remains one of the finest players in the world and has been longlisted for this year’s Ballon d’Or after helping Argentina win their first Copa America since 1993.
And Pochettino is tipping Messi to hold off competition from Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo and win the prestigious honour for a record seventh time.
The PSG boss recently said: “The Ballon d’Or should go to Messi without any doubt.
“And if I didn’t coach Messi, I would still say Messi. I answer with my heart. I always say what I feel. On the podium with him would have to be Lewandowski and Cristiano.”
Bayern Munich ace Lewandowski has been in blistering form since the start of last season, scoring 48 goals in his last 36 Bundesliga outings.
Ronaldo has also enjoyed a lot of success in front of goal for Juventus and Manchester United , finding the back of the net 32 times in his last 38 league appearances.
One player that has been controversially omitted from the Ballon d’Or longlist is Edouard Mendy, despite winning UEFA’s Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season award.