Belfast Telegraph

Messi 'could have joined Arsenal'

Lionel Messi could have joined Arsenal from Barcelona as a teenager along with Cesc Fabregas and Gerard Pique, Arsene Wenger confirmed today.

Argentina midfield maestro Messi developed into one of the world's greatest players at the Nou Camp, but was close to considering a switch to England when he was 15 in the Barcelona Academy.

A recent biography suggests the potential deal broke down because Arsenal were unable to purchase accommodation for Messi's family, who were keen to join him in London, although the South American would still have needed to secure a work permit.

Despite all of their efforts, Arsenal boss Wenger - who also scouted the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Didier Drogba when they were raw talents - believes the player just felt settled in Spain rather than take a chance on a switch to England.

"I think in the end, he was not so keen to move, because it was at a period where Fabregas came, and Fabregas and Messi played together in the same team (at Barcelona Academy). We wanted to take Fabregas, Messi and Pique. It worked only for Fabregas," said Wenger.

"It was not completely down to a flat in the end. It was down to the fact that, in the end, Messi was comfortable at Barcelona."

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