Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal tried to sign Lionel Messi at the same time as Cesc Fabregas, but the player had already reached an ‘untouchable’ status with FC Barcelona.
Back in 2003, Arsenal made moves for multiple Barcelona youth players. Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique were all on the agenda, but only Fabregas ended up making the move to North London.
Speaking to beIN SPORTS this week, Arsene Wenger explained that discussions took place, but it just wasn’t possible to convince Barcelona to sell their prize asset.
“We were in discussions with him when we bought [Cesc] Fabregas because Messi played [with him],” Wenger said (via TeamTalk).
“You can realise sometimes what fantastic youth teams you had before when you’re a club like Barcelona. In the same team, Messi, [Gerard] Pique and Fabregas.
“Pique and Fabregas came to England [with Manchester United and Arsenal respectively], Messi stayed in Spain. We were interested in him, but he was untouchable at the time.”
You have to imagine that a large number of clubs have tried and failed to make a dent in Barcelona’s resolve to hold onto arguably the greatest player of all time. Nonetheless, after joining in 2001, Messi is closing in on the start of his third decade with the club.
It’s not possible the 32-year-old would’ve remained with Barcelona that long unless he felt just as strongly that’s what he wanted to do. In the end, a player like Fabregas was a much more achievable target.