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Arsene Wenger could arguably write a book about all the players Arsenal came close to signing during his tenure.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Vincent Kompany, Gigi Buffon, Gareth Bale, Raphael Varane, Paul Pogba and most recently Kylian Mbappe could have moved to the Emirates, but it wasn’t meant to be. (TalkSport)

One other player Arsenal could have signed is Lionel Messi. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner was on Wenger’s radar when we signed Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona back in 2003.

Arsenal v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League

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The former Gunners boss confirmed on multiple occasions that we could’ve seen the world’s best player play for us, and if his ex-agent’s words are anything to go by, we were closer to his signature than we knew.

Messi’s former representative, Fabian Soldini, spoke to Marca about Arsenal’s interest in his client in 2003. Wenger managed to get Fabregas, and the Argentine was allegedly tempted to join his former teammate on his journey.

Arsenal FC v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

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He said: “[Messi] was tempted to go to Arsenal, but he didn’t go. I remember the day that Cesc asked to leave [Barcelona]. Messi was also asked to go, but he didn’t want to leave.”

It is impossible to predict how his career would have been if he had joined Arsenal, but not many can argue that he would have been a huge success. Of course, bigger clubs would have eventually tried to take him off us, but just a few years of Messi at the Emirates would certainly have given us a lot of joy.

Arsenal FC v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

(Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

 

 

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