Former Manchester City forward Robinho has claimed that the club's owner Sheikh Mansour made a vow to sign Lionel Messi as part of his plan to turn the club into a dominant force.
Mansour's takeover of City in 2008 has yielded two league titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup so far, while they are favourites to win the Premier League and amongst the frontrunners for Champions League glory this season too.
Messi has regularly been linked with a move to the Etihad Stadium during that time, and Robinho confirmed that the five-time Ballon d'Or winner has long been the club's number one transfer target.
"I spoke a few times with the owner Sheikh Mansour. He told me he was going to go big to get Kaka and Lionel Messi. Kaka was close. But Messi... I think Messi was beyond them. But I believed in the project," he told Daily Mail.
"The Sheikh had the ambition to create the best team in the world and now look at them. They have the best manager in the world in Pep Guardiola and can go toe-to-toe with anyone."