Big-spending City was linked with moves for the likes of Kaka and Barcelona star Messi for many years, before assembling a record-breaking Premier League outfit under Pep Guardiola.
But Al Mubarak confirmed that there was truth to reports City was hoping to recruit five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi, with former Barca boss Guardiola tasked with speaking to the Argentinian.
However, even a hefty pay rise would not prove tempting enough for Messi to depart Camp Nou.
"We asked Guardiola to talk to [Messi]," Al Mubarak said from the United Arab Emirates, having identified the Barca star as the one player he wished he had signed.
"We offered to triple the salary he has at Barcelona, but he did not accept it."
Messi is Barcelona's record goalscorer and has played a part in four UEFA Champions League successes since coming through the club's La Masia academy.
The 31-year-old has scored 11 goals in 11 games in all competitions so far this season.