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‘He was untouchable at the time’: Arsene Wenger reveals Arsenal tried to sign Lionel Messi in 2003

Arsene Wenger has revealed he tried to bring Lionel Messi to Arsenal at the same time he bought Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona.

The former Arsenal manager signed Fabregas, who had progressed through Barca’s infamous La Masia academy, as a 16-year-old in 2003.

The Spaniard had played with Gerard Pique and Messi, but Arsenal’s enquiry into the availability of the ‘untouchable’ Argentinean maestro was dismissed by Barcelona. 

Ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Lionel Messi was simply 'untouchable' at Barcelona

Ex-Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says Lionel Messi was simply ‘untouchable’ at Barcelona 

Messi made his La Liga debut in October 2004 as a 17-year-old against local rivals Espanyol

Messi made his La Liga debut in October 2004 as a 17-year-old against local rivals Espanyol

‘We were in discussions with [Messi] when we bought Fabregas, because Messi played [with him],’ said Wenger. 

‘You can realise sometimes what fantastic youth teams you had before when you’re a club like Barcelona. In the same team, Messi, Pique and Fabregas.

‘Pique and Fabregas came to England, Messi stayed in Spain. We were interested in him, but he was untouchable at the time.’

Fabregas signed for Arsenal in the same season the Gunners went a whole Premier League season unbeaten – their last Premier League title in 2003/04.

Unlike Messi, Cesc Fabregas wasn't indispensable to Barcelona and left for Arsenal in 2003

Unlike Messi, Cesc Fabregas wasn’t indispensable to Barcelona and left for Arsenal in 2003 

Barca captain Messi missed the opening three La Liga matches of the season with a calf issue

Barca captain Messi missed the opening three La Liga matches of the season with a calf issue

The midfielder went onto win the FA Cup in 2005, a Champions League runners-up medal in 2006 and captain the club from 2008.

But after a drawn-out transfer saga, Fabregas moved back to Barcelona in 2011, and stayed at the Nou Camp for three years before returning to London to play for Chelsea. 

Messi, meanwhile, made his league debut at Barcelona in October 2004, and has gone on to become one of football’s greatest ever players, with four Champions League crowns, ten La Liga titles and five Ballon d’Or gongs. 

Wenger has been without a role since leaving Arsenal over a year ago, but is in line to take on the position of FIFA technical director this month. 

Original article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-7443709/He-untouchable-time-Arsene-Wenger-reveals-Arsenal-tried-sign-Lionel-Messi.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490

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