When Ballon d’Or winning Barcelona star Allan Simonsen almost bankrupted an English club after rejecting Real Madrid and Tottenham – maybe it’s just as well Lionel Messi is signing a new contract!

Lionel Messi still does not officially have a club, though he is thought to be on the verge of re-joining Barcelona.

The Camp Nou legend is without a club having ran his contract down and the club are in the process of moving players around and selling others in order to be able to afford him – he will have to take a hefty pay cut however.

Messi is ready to leave Barcelona

At one time, it seemed like he was on his way out, with Along with Paris Saint-Germain touted as one destination, although the Premier League appeared the most likely.

Last summer, the Argentina superstar sent a fax to club chiefs informing them he wants out and requesting they exercise a clause in his contract which would him to leave for free.

Should he do the unthinkable and decide against penning a new deal because he’s had enough of winning trophies, being the top dog and fancies an away trip to Griffin Park on a Monday night instead, then he won’t be the first former Ballon d’Or winner to swap the Catalan club for an English team.

Allan Simonsen signed for Charlton in 1982
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Danish footballer Allan Simonsen shocked the world when he decided to quit Barcelona in 1982 and ended up joining second tier club Charlton Athletic – despite offers from Real Madrid and Tottenham.

The deadly striker had the world at his feet in the 1970s and was part of the dominant Borussia Monchengladbach side.

Simonsen helped Gladbach win three consecutive Bundesliga titles between 1974 and 1977 and reached the European Cup final in 1977.

He scored in that final against Liverpool but they went on to lose 3-1.

1977 proved to be a vintage year for the Dane as he won the Ballon d’Or, then dubbed European Footballer of the Year, where he beat Kevin Keegan and Michel Platini to the prize.

Messi won the Copa del Rey with Barcelona last season then finished top scorer with four goals as Argentina won the Copa America

He was also the first Danish footballer to win the award.

During his time with the German club he also helped them win two UEFA Cups and scored plenty of goals along the way.

Simonsen was signed by Barcelona in 1979 where he won one Copa del Rey but the club performed poorly in LaLiga.

In 1982, the Spanish club signed Diego Maradona and restrictions meant only two foreign players were allowed in the line-up.

Simonsen had to compete with Maradona and Bernd Schuster for those two places and he was not best pleased about it.

The striker asked for his contract to be annulled and there was interest from clubs like Real Madrid and Tottenham.

Second Division side Charlton made a surprise £324,000 offer and he shocked the world by signing for the Addicks in order to play with less stress and attention.

It was actually more than any other club wanted to pay and double the sum he cost Barcelona three years previously.

Allan Simonsen swapped Barcelona for Charlton
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The idea was the brainchild of then Charlton chairman Mark Hulyer who saw the move as an ideal PR stunt to try and fill The Valley and turn the club’s ailing finances around.

Speaking to Charlton Live in 2013, Simonsen said: “The reason I wanted to try something new, I had been playing in Denmark, in Germany and Spain. Now I wanted to try something completely new. I had to the possibility to go to England and had possibilities in the First Division at that time and in the Second Division with Charlton Athletic.

“I was very stressed in my time at Barcelona, so I needed to calm down with my family and have more time with my family. That’s more the reason I went to Charlton Athletic.

“I had heard a lot of good things about Charlton at that time. Mr Hulyer, who was the chairman at the time, wanted to build a new team around me as well. I thought it was a very good chance to try something completely new. That’s why I chose Charlton.”

Denmark international Simonsen won the Ballon d’Or in 1977
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At the time, they were seeing just 6,000 fans attend games, well short of the 75,000 capacity The Valley had.

Things initially looked promising with 4,000 people turning up to watch Simonsen in a reserve game and more than 10,000 saw him play against Middlesbrough in a 3-2 league defeat.

One of his standout moments came against Chelsea when Charlton were 2-1 down with 12 minutes remaining and Simonsen scored twice as the Addicks went on to win 5-2.

Gate receipts may have risen but it was not enough to turn things around – it had the opposite effect.

Simonsen scored nine goals in just 16 games for the south London club but they had trouble funding the transfer and wages.

The Addicks were plunged into financial crisis with a £145,000 Inland Revenue bill, bankruptcy petitions and winding up orders from creditors.

Charlton had only paid half the fee for to Barcelona up front. This led to the club’s eventual exile away from The Valley where they went on to ground share with Crystal Palace and West Ham before their return in 1992.

Simonsen’s agent had placed a release clause in the player’s contract and when Charlton could no longer afford his wages that clause was enacted.

He then chose to return to his childhood club in Denmark, VB. The Galactico signing certainly put Charlton on the map but led to a world of trouble off the pitch.