Lionel Messi: How close did Barcelona star come to joining Arsenal? Wenger reveals all
Wenger wanted to bring Messi and Gerard Pique to Arsenal alongside Cesc Fabregas in 2003.
The Frenchman was successful in his quest for Fabregas, who went on to make over 200 appearances for the Gunners, however could not manage to bring the other pair to north London.
At the time, Messi was still progressing through the Barcelona ranks before going on to become one of the greatest players world football has ever seen.
But the Argentinian’s rich Barcelona history may never have happened if Wenger had got his own way with both Messi and Pique.
“The story of Cesc Fabregas is that Franny Cagiago and Steve Rowley brought the player here and we had to convince him,” Wenger told Arsenal.com.
“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.”
Messi has gone on to win just about everything there is to in world football.
The 30-year-old has five Ballon d’Ors to his name as well as four Champions League titles.
There is one space in his trophy cabinet though and Messi will be looking to fill that when he heads to Russia for this summer’s World Cup.