Del Bosque: Spain Tried To Naturalise Messi

The coach has revealed an attempt was made to prise the forward away from Argentina but the youngster had no intention of turning his back on his country.
Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque has admitted that the country's football federation (RFEF) tried to persuadeLionel Messi to declare for La Roja.

Barcelona star Messi was born and raised in Rosario, Argentina but moved to Catalunya when he was just 13.

In certain cases, a person can be granted Spanish citizenship if they have been living in the country for five years or more, as happened with Brazil-born striker Diego Costa.

Consequently, the RFEF made an effort to naturalise Messi only to find that the forward had no intention of turning his back on his native Argentina.

"There was an attempt but he decided to stick with the country of his birth," Del Bosque told The Guardian. "He remained steadfast [in his refusal to change nationality].

"That’s a phenomenon that we cannot turn our back on or pretend doesn’t exist.

"But we don’t know where the next Messi or the next Ronaldo is going to come from: it could be one of those who arrives here from another country looking to make a better life."

Messi, who has spent his entire professional career at Barca, led Argentina to the finals of both the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Copa America but the 28-year-old has yet to lift a major trophy with his country.

Spain, meanwhile, won the 2008 and 2012 European Championships, as well as the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.