Not pictured: Leo Messi holding a bunch of money from Anzhi. (Getty)
With most leagues on winter break, the holiday season can be a very slow news period in the world of football. So when a report of mega-rich Russian club Anzhi offering Barcelona €250 million to trigger Lionel Messi's automatic buyout clause with a promise of a three-year contract worth €30 million a season for the player who scored 91 goals in 2012 was published, it was quickly parroted by outlets around the world. You might think that there would be some investigation into such a ridiculous claim before spreading the word, but you'd be wrong. Also wrong: The reports that Anzhi made such an offer.
"There isn't a shred of truth in it", Anzhi market consultant German Tkachenko told Russian newspaper 'Sport-Express'.
Tkachenko added the following: "Asking a question about this, let alone writing about it, shows a lack of understanding about how Anzhi's sporting model is designed and what its principles and priorities are".
According to Spanish daily 'El Mundo Deportivo', the Argentine star rejected a mind-blowing offer from the Dagestani outfit, which was willing to foot Messi's €250 million buyout clause and offer the forward a staggering three-year deal worth €30 million a season.
Even the most mind-bogglingly rich clubs in Europe know that Messi isn't leaving Barcelona for any amount of money -- especially after he just signed a contract extension until 2018 less than two weeks ago -- so it seems unlikely that any would even bother making an offer. Then again, the initial report only identified the bidder as an unnamed Russian club. Maybe it was actually just a club with a Russian shareholder and this was really Arsene Wenger's attempt to fulfill his recent promise to sign Messi in January and surprise the press.
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- Lionel Messi