Arsene Wenger has responded to years of speculation that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were both linked to a move to Arsenal in the early stages of their career. The Frenchman confirmed the rumours while talking on beIN Sports.
"Ronaldo was very close to joining us," Wenger said. "The bad luck for us was that Carlos Queiroz joined Man Utd [as assistant manager] and in a week he persuaded Sir Alex Ferguson to buy Ronaldo. He was quite a good buy at the time."
Wenger also confirmed that Arsenal highly rated the trio of Gerard Pique, Cesc Fabregas, and Lionel Messi - but could only lure Fabregas to Highbury at the time.
"We wanted the trio of Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique," the former Arsenal manager said. "They are a generation who played all together. Pique played in midfield at the time, and in the end, he decided to go to Man Utd. Fabregas joined us and Barcelona were clever enough to keep Messi."
The legendary Arsenal manager also confirmed that the North London side were very close to signing Kylian Mbappe before PSG swooped in, claiming that he even visited the 22-year-old's house in Monaco.
"We can talk about Mbappe, I was at his home when he was undecided about whether to extend his contract with Monaco," Wenger confirmed. "He could have come to Arsenal for free."
Every club is full of histories like that: Wenger on 'nearly' bringing Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to Arsenal
The legendary French manager did not appear bitter about not signing these great players. Wenger claimed that these kinds of cases are common in most big clubs across Europe.
“I would say every club is full of histories like that,” Wenger said on missing out on Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. “You go to Milan, to Manchester, Arsenal, Chelsea, there are these kinds of stories everywhere.”
The Frenchman also confirmed that Arsenal were in advanced talks to sign Jamie Vardy from Leicester City following their remarkable 2015/16 Premier League-winning campaign. Wenger claimed they offered Leicester 'a lot of money'.
“I offered a lot of money at the time. Leicester had just won the championship in 2016, and [Vichai] Srivaddhanaprabha did not want to lose him. They offered him a longer contract and approximately the same money, if not more,” the Frenchman said.