Arsene Wenger was the king of nearly bringing world class footballers to Arsenal during his 22-years in north London – so it makes sense Lionel Messi was almost a Gunners star.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba and Vincent Kompany are just four players the Frenchman was apparently on the verge of introducing at the Emirates, or in the early days Highbury.
Back in 2003, Wenger was hoping to lure Messi to the Gunners alongside Gerard Pique, who would sign for Manchester United, and Cesc Fabregas.
The veteran manager, who finally left earlier this month, managed to capture Fabregas – who went on to play 303 times for Arsenal, winning the FA Cup in 2005, before returning to Barca – but not the other two then-wonder kids.
Wenger explained the saga for the talented Barca trio on the Arsenal website .
“The story of Cesc Fabregas is that Franny Cagiago and Steve Rowley brought the player here and we had to convince him,” he said.
“I met Cesc’s parents and at the time we were interested in Messi and Pique as well. We tried for the three but of course it didn’t work out, but we got a gem there in Cesc and he is an exceptional player. A brain for football.
“[It didn’t work out with Messi and Pique] because of the agents. I think it was linked with Nike at the time and they wanted Pique to go to Man United.
“With Messi, Barcelona didn’t want to lose him of course and they made [the offer] that was needed to keep the player at the club.
“I don’t really know if Messi was interested… I couldn’t get close to try to force the deal because Barcelona stopped that possibility very early.”