The Argentine and Pique were also targeted by the Gunners.
FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi could actually have become an Arsenal player back in 2003 when the club signed Cesc Fabregas from the Catalans.
Along with Fabregas the Gunners also targeted Messi and fellow Barca trainee Gerard Pique – who eventually joined Manchester United a year later – but the deal could not be confirmed.
Sky Sports’ Spanish journalist Guillem Balague has written all about the time in his new book ‘Messi’ and reveals why the North London outfit were eventually unsuccessful in their attempts.
“During the 2002-03 season the Cadete A side was followed closely by Arsenal who were looking to sign not just Cesc Fabregas, but also Gerard Pique and Leo Messi,” Balague wrote, as quoted by the Daily Star.
“He spent that day, and many more, fruitlessly searching for the Argentinian’s agent.
“He came back to see Alex Garcia’s side in the MIC tournament at Easter. While Barcelona were battling against a new rival, Cagigao was speaking on the telephone. ‘If only I could find someone who works with the Argentinian youngster.’
“As he put the phone down one of Leo’s representatives in Spain, Horacio Gaggioli, who had overheard the conversation, approached him. ‘I believe you’re looking for me.’
“That night Francis had dinner with the agent and expressed an interest in Messi, an interest that culminated in an offer being passed to the boy’s father, Jorge.
“From that moment the lines of communication between Arsenal and the Messis were open. Cesc and Pique were also targets.
“The Messis listened to what Arsenal had to say but they were not about to have their heads turned. Obstacles were apparent in any potential agreement.
“The English club could not offer a flat for the family, and there would be difficulty obtaining a work permit.”
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