Manchester City had agreed to meet Lionel Messi’s old €250m release clause and pay him €250m net over five years, say El Mundo.
The report claims a move was at its closest point only weeks before the Argentine penned a new long-term contract at the Camp Nou, hiking the release clause to €700m.
The 31-year-old now has a yearly wage of €35m net at the Camp Nou, making him the highest paid player in world football.
Former Barcelona vice president Ferran Soriano, now on City’s board, is said to have held extensive talks with Messi’s father and agent to line-up the deal.
The daily Madrid newspaper claims the timing of the talks, which coincided with political uncertainty in Catalonia, had made the move at one point seem a possibility.