Arsene Wenger reveals how close Arsenal came to signing Lionel Messi – Metro.co.uk

Arsene Wenger reveals how close Arsenal came to signing Lionel Messi
The Barcelona star was in talks to join Cesc Fabregas in a move to north London (Picture: Getty)

Arsene Wenger has revealed that Arsenal held discussions with Barcelona to try and sign Lionel Messi while the Argentine superstar was still in the Catalan club’s youth team.

The former Gunners boss has a long list of players who almost signed for Arsenal before going on to become world-beaters, with Cristiano Ronaldo recently confirming he spoke to Wenger before opting to join Manchester United.

And now the Frenchman has revealed that he spoke to Messi about moving to the Emirates back in 2003 when the club poached Cesc Fabregas from Barca’s famed La Masia academy.

Arsene Wenger reveals how close Arsenal came to signing Lionel Messi
Fabregas and Messi have known each other since they were kids (Picture: Getty)

Asked if he ever tried to sign Messi, Wenger told beIN SPORTS: ‘We were in discussions with him when we bought Fabregas, because Messi played [with him].

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‘You can realise sometimes what fantastic youth teams you had before when you’re a club like Barcelona. In the same team, Messi, [Gerard] Pique and Fabregas.

‘Pique and Fabregas came to England [with Manchester United and Arsenal respectively], Messi stayed in Spain. We were interested in him, but he was untouchable at the time.’

On whether he almost signed Ronaldo, he added: ‘Yes, you have to live with regrets in life, you know. There’s only unachieved business in life and this is a big part of it.’

Arsene Wenger reveals how close Arsenal came to signing Lionel Messi
Wenger says he slightly prefers the ‘artistry’ of Messi over Ronaldo (Picture: Getty)

Asked to choose between Ronaldo and Messi, Wenger said: ‘I would say that they are so good that it’s difficult to choose – in 10 footballers of the year, it’s five and five, so that shows they are really on the same level.

‘Artistically, Messi is as well a guy who can give the final ball, so he’s maybe more a creative player than Ronaldo. Ronaldo is more a finisher, better in the air, more athletic, and Messi is the more artistic. So basically you are always tempted a little bit more by a player like Messi.’

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