There was a time when a reunion between Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola looked distinctly possible, but on Tuesday they will be on opposite sides again when Paris Saint-Germain play Manchester City in the Champions League.
Had it not been for Jack Grealish, perhaps things would have turned out differently.
City announced the £100 million ($139m) signing of Grealish from Aston Villa on August 5, the same day Barcelona revealed Messi would not be staying at the Camp Nou.
A year ago, when Messi tried to force his departure from Catalonia, City appeared the most likely destination.
In the end Barcelona prevented the six-time Ballon d’Or winner from leaving then and 12 months later Messi was prepared to stay put until it became clear the financial mess at the Camp Nou meant he could not.
If City had anticipated Messi becoming available, they might have moved for him. But instead they focused their sights on Grealish and were trying to sign Harry Kane, a move that ultimately didn’t happen.
“Right now it is not in our thoughts,” Guardiola said when asked if City might move for Messi.
It says much about the modern game that PSG were the only other realistic destination for the 34-year-old who Guardiola has described as the greatest player of all time.
Messi has played just three games for his new club and is yet to score. He has sat out PSG’s last two matches with a knee problem but the feeling is that Mauricio Pochettino has been saving him for City.
After being held 1-1 by Club Brugge in their opening game, PSG need a positive result against City to stop their rivals taking control of their Champions League group.