BARCELONA star Gerard Pique failed with a shock bid to buy Notts County and turn the academy into a new La Masia.
The La Masia is Barca's famous youth set-up, which has attracted the likes of Lionel Messi, Pep Guardiola and Carlos Puyol over the years, not forgetting Cesc Fabregas and Pique himself.
2 Shakira and Gerard Pique watch the US Open in New YorkCredit: Getty – Contributor
2 Gerard Pique failed in an audacious bid to buy Notts County in the summerCredit: Getty – Contributor
The Spain and ex-Manchester United defender, 32, – who has two children with pop singer Shakira – reportedly wanted to snap up cash-crippled County, who slipped out of the EFL last season and into non-league.
Then Barca could have sent young hopefuls over to test their mettle in England.
But the financial problems at Meadow Lane left Pique with no time to complete the checks needed to make sure he was not taking on a mountain of debt at the world’s oldest professional club.
Talks between County’s former owner Alan Hardy and Pique’s Kosmos Global Holding group took place in London, The Athletic report.
But a looming High Court date over an unpaid tax bill meant Hardy had no choice but to accept an earlier offer from Danish brothers Alexander and Christoffer Reedtz on July 26.
Pique, who spent four years at Old Trafford before returning to Barcelona in 2008, launched Kosmos with Hiroshi Mikitani, the founder of Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten, which sponsors Barcelona, in 2017.
Kosmos is a sports, media and entertainment company and made its first high-profile investment in February 2018 when it entered into a 25-year deal with the International Tennis Federation to run the prestigious Davis Cup team event.
Pique’s Barcelona team-mate Messi is one of the investors in Kosmos, which also includes American technology billionaire Larry Ellison.
In August 2018, Kosmos made its first football move, buying FC Andorra and the club were promoted to Spain’s third tier after their first season under new ownership.
As talks between them and County stuttered, the company instead purchased another football club, Gimnastic Manresa, based in the north east of Spain.
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Pique would not have been the first ex-footballer to buy a football club in England.
David Beckham joined pals the Neville brothers, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt to buy Salford City.
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Francis Lee took over at Manchester City, while Terry Venables became co-owner at Tottenham with Sir Alan Sugar in the 1990s.
Only time will tell if the Reedtzs' decision to buy County and pip Pique to the punch will pay-off.
The troubled club, relegated from League Two amid huge financial problems last season, are already struggling in the National League.