Barcelona star Gerard Pique came close to buying Notts County during the summer, according to reports.
The National League club were eventually taken over by Danish brothers Alexander and Christoffer Reedtz in July after previous owner Alan Hardy needed to sell quickly with a High Court date over an unpaid tax bill on the horizon.
The Athletic say Pique was attracted by County’s rich history and wanted to transform Meadow Lane into a ‘finishing school for homegrown talent’, much like La Masia, Barcelona’s renowned academy.
The 32-year-old’s Kosmos Global Holding group were believed to have held talks with Hardy, before he sold to the Reedtz brothers.
Former Manchester United defender Pique launched Kosmos with Hiroshi Mikitani, founder of electronic goods firm Rakuten, Barcelona’s current shirt sponsors, in 2017.
Kosmos is a sports, media and entertainment company, which entered a 25-year partnership with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to run the Davis Cup last year.
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Pique’s company purchased Spanish club FC Andorra in August 2018, making their first move into football, and they were promoted to Spain’s third tier in their first season under new ownership.
Former footballers have chosen to invest their money into clubs, with Gary and Phil Neville, David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt part-owning League Two side Salford City.
Meanwhile, earlier this week, it was revealed Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp is part of a consortium that wants to buy League One high-flyers Wycombe.
Notts County were relegated from League Two last season, dropping out the Football League for the first time in their 157-year history.
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It is understood Hardy was holding out for £10million to sell after running out of funds to run the club.
But an HM Revenue and Customs winding-up petition forced him to sell County before July 31 or be forced to enter administration, which would have resulted in a 12-point deduction at the start of the 2019/20 season.
The English Football League’s ‘Owners’ and Directors’ Test’ states anyone with a conviction of fraud could be banned from owning a club, which could have made a takeover difficult for the Spain international.