Madrid: Real Madrid have tried three times in the last five years to sign Barcelona's Lionel Messi, according to a report in Spain.
The Partido de las Doce programme on the Cadena COPE radio station claimed representatives of Real approached the Argentinian in 2011, 2013 and 2015, but were rebuffed on each occasion.
Messi, who earlier this month won a fifth Ballon d'Or award, has been instrumental in Barcelona's success in recent years, with the club claiming a Champions League, Primera División and Copa del Rey treble last season.
The report claimed the first approach in 2011 came at a time when Cristiano Ronaldo was being linked with a move to Manchester City. In June 2013 it was reported that a Real executive – on instruction from the club president Florentino Pérez – made a renewed attempt after they had lost out to Barcelona in the pursuit of Neymar.
The final attempt was made last year, according to the report, after Barcelona had dominated Real in Europe and at home, but again they were knocked back.
Moves between the bitter rivals who dominate the Spanish game are rare, but not unprecedented. The current Barcelona coach Luís Enrique joined the club from Real in 1996, while four years later Pérez recruited Luis Figo from Barcelona.
Figo's departure caused uproar in Catalonia and he was targeted by all manner of missiles – including a pig's head – when he returned to the Camp Nou with Real in November 2002.
One of Real's all-time greats, Alfredo Di Stéfano, had initially signed for Barcelona in 1953 but after a dispute over his signature with Real the Spanish federation came up with a compromise arrangement where the Argentinian would play alternate seasons at each club.
Barcelona pulled out of the agreement in protest at the federation's ruling and Di Stéfano was free to sign for Real. The exact sequence of events which led to Di Stéfano ending up in Madrid are still the subject of conspiracy theories over suspicions of interference by the Franco regime.