LIONEL MESSI phoned Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho in a bid to coax the Brazilian to Barcelona.
Coutinho was chased by Nou Camp chief Ernesto Valverde for several weeks.
However, Liverpool bigwigs stubbornly dug their heels in and repeatedly refused to let him leave.
But Barca kept pushing and Spanish media outlet Don Balon say Messi personally called Coutinho as the Catalans upped the ante.
It’s suggested Luis Suarez was also involved in the final push to secure his signature.
Suarez played with Coutinho during their time together at Anfield and they maintain cordial relations.
Despite the duo’s efforts, their attempts were in vain and Coutinho stayed put.
Don Balon reckon the Brazilian didn’t push hard enough to leave Liverpool.
They say the midfielder had certain concerns about moving to Spain.
A source told Don Balon that if Coutinho really wanted to play for Barca, he would be by now.
Barca reportedly wanted him to take drastic measures to force a move.
But Don Balon insist Coutinho wasn’t willing to do that out of respect for the Premier League side.
Valverde didn’t manage to sign his top target, but the former Athletic Bilbao boss didn’t scrimp on other new arrivals.
He splashed out to sign Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund.
The Frenchman could end up costing around £135m.
Nelson Semedo and Paulino also cost the club in excess of £30m each this summer.