Football News

Lionel Messi wanted me at Barcelona before he moved to PSG, says Tottenham summer signing Cristian Romero

By Ben Green

Published: 16:38, 24 August 2021 | Updated: 18:24, 10 September 2021

Tottenham Hotspur summer signing Cristian Romero has revealed Argentinian compatriot Lionel Messi wanted him to join Barcelona before his sensational switch to Paris Saint-Germain.

Romero, 23, proved a revelation last season for Atalanta during a loan spell from Juventus, which culminated in the centre-back winning the ‘Serie A Best Defender’ award, as well as earning his first caps for Argentina.

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In total, Romero has so far earned five caps this year for his nation, starring in Copa America alongside Messi, as the six-time Ballon d’Or winner sealed his first international trophy, and Tottenham’s new signing secured a place in the ‘Team of the Tournament’.

Atalanta, a club renowned for its shrewd recruitment policy and fruitful scouting network, secured Romero’s signature on a permanent deal from Juve this summer for £13.6m, but Spurs have since loaned the Argentinian star with the option of a £46.7m transfer next summer.

Nuno Espirito Santo will be delighted to have pulled off a deal for one of Europe’s most sought-after defenders as he begins his reign in north London, but were it not for Messi joining PSG, Romero could have been playing under Ronald Koeman this campaign.

He told Radio AM 550: “The fact that Messi would want me in his team, and that he wanted me to come to Barcelona is amazing.

“The team that PSG have built is crazy. I’m a bit sad about how Leo left Barcelona, I thought he would have stayed there forever. I wish him all the best, he’s a great person and hopefully he can win everything alongside the other Argentinians there.

“I’m thankful to Messi and for everything that I shared with him and the rest of the national team. From the first day the group made me feel like I’d been there for years. That’s just the kind of group it is there.”

Yet to start in the Premier League, Spurs fans will be relishing the chance to see their new man in action on a consistent basis. Not only is Romero a ‘modern’ centre-back in every sense of the word, comfortable on the ball and slick with his passing range, but he is also a very solid defender.

No player has made more interceptions in Europe’s top five leagues since the start of the 2019/2020 season than Romero (171), so Spurs are certainly getting their hands on a player who, first and foremost, can shore up the backline, but also someone who is accustomed to a possession-based game.

Having worked under Gian Piero Gasperini in Bergamo, who has transformed Atalanta into one of Europe’s most exhilarating and entertaining sides, Romero comes to the Premier League with an education in full-throttle, forward-thinking football, as well as learning in arguably the continent’s most defensively competent league: Serie A.