In a recent interview with the BBC, former Arsenal scout Francis Cagigao has made some incredible revelations about Lionel Messi's famed transfer links with Arsene Wenger and the Gunners when the Argentine prodigy was still finding his feet at Barcelona.
Arsenal have regularly used Barcelona's La Masia and its reliable production line to bring some of the most talented Spanish youngsters to the Premier League. Arsene Wenger was successful in bringing Cesc Fabregas to Arsenal and famously claimed that negotiations were also ongoing for Lionel Messi.
Cagigao, however, has claimed that while Arsenal did express an interest in signing Lionel Messi, the deal was far too complicated to complete. Lionel Messi is the best player Barcelona has ever produced and has gone to become the club's talisman.
"I think Arsene stated while manager that we were close to signing Messi. I wouldn't go as far as saying we were close. We were there or thereabouts and discussions took place with his representatives."
Arsenal have signed several young players under Arsene Wenger and while some have gone on to have extraordinary careers, some others have fallen by the wayside. The French manager is well-known for his ability to bring youth players to the fore and has launched several careers during his tenure at Arsenal.
Barcelona star Lionel Messi was unlikely to join Arsenal, according to former scout
According to Cagigao, Arsenal were also close to signing Lionel Messi's teammate Gerard Pique from Barcelona in 2003. The talented defender nearly moved to Arsenal but decided to opt against it and made the switch to Manchester United a few months later.
"It's public knowledge that Pique came inches away from signing a contract with us and signed for Manchester United six months later. The only thing I can say is there was some contractual disagreement between the club and Gerard's representatives at the time and it didn't go forward because of those."
The Gunners did manage to convince Cesc Fabregas to join Arsenal and the Spaniard went on to become a brilliant player under Arsene Wenger. The Premier League giants could have also signed Lionel Messi but Barcelona were intent on ensuring that their Argentine prodigy stays at the club.
"Fabregas was playing in the best under-16s side I've seen until this day. He had to come to London by himself. I knew it was going to be tough but the maturity he showed was exceptional."
Arsene Wenger's work at Arsenal resulted in a number of young stars coming into the Premier League and dazzling England with their quality and technical ability. Cesc Fabregas was the cream of the crop and eventually returned to Barcelona to reunite with the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta.
Barcelona have benefitted immensely from Lionel Messi's presence at the club and have won plenty of silverware over the past few years. Had Arsene Wenger managed to bring the Argentine to Arsenal, things would have been remarkably different for both Barcelona and the Gunners.
Published 16 Sep 2020, 23:26 IST