- Arsene Wenger opens the lid about how he was close to signing Messi
- The 68-year-old ended his 22-year reign with the Gunners recently
- Wenger also revealed how he almost landed Ronaldo from Lisbon
Arsenal legendary manager Arsene Wenger has revealed how the club were close to the signing of Barcelona star Lionel Messi.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winner was chased by the Gunners in 2003 along with Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas, as the North London club sourced Europe for the hottest prospects.
Only Fabregas out of the trio ultimately joined Arsenal but the FA Cup holders were unable to lure Messi and Pique away from the famed La Masia academy.
Fabregas went on to become a firm fan favourite at the Emirates making 303 appearances in all competitions as well as being made captain in 2008.
However the situation would have been different had he not made the move from Spain on his own.
Speaking to the Arsenal website, Wenger said: "The story of Cesc Fabregas is that Franny Cagiago and Steve Rowley brought the player here and we had to convince him.
"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."
Wenger ended his 22-year reign with Arsenal with a 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town to draw the curtains on his illustrious career with the London club.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had earlier reported that the French coach was also very close to bringing Cristiano Ronaldo to the Emirates from Sporting Lisbon.
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