‘Messi was tempted to go to Arsenal’ – Former agent reveals move almost happened alongside Fabregas

Lionel Messi Barcelona
Fabian Soldini claims the Barcelona superstar mulled over the idea of heading to north London back in 2003 after interest was shown

Lionel Messi was “tempted to go to Arsenal” back in 2003, claims the Barcelona star's former agent Fabian Soldini, with the Gunners expressing interest when luring Cesc Fabregas away from Catalunya.

One product of the famed La Masia academy system was welcomed onto the books in north London.

Fabregas went on to spend eight years with the Gunners, becoming club captain along the way, before returning to his roots at Barca in 2011.

He was reunited with Messi when making that move, with the subsequent six-time Ballon d’Or winner having opted to stay put.

There was, however, a moment when a switch to England was considered, with Soldini revealing that the history of modern football could have been very different.

A man who managed the career of an emerging talent in his early days told Marca: “[Messi] was tempted to go to Arsenal, but he didn't go.

“I remember the day that Cesc asked to leave. Messi was also asked to go, but he didn't want to leave.”

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger missed out on a number of top talents during his iconic 22-year reign with the Gunners, with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic also slipping his net.

Messi was, however, never a realistic option as Barcelona had invested plenty of funds and faith in the South American by the time Premier League suitors came onto the scene.

Arsenal’s former head of global recruitment, Francis Cagigao, told Goal recently: “We had identified Messi and we wouldn’t have been the only ones.

“I remember there were a couple of Italian clubs and obviously Spanish clubs who were very aware of Messi.

“But he couldn’t play national level because of the restriction on his status in the country at the time. He could only play regional games for Barcelona.

“So, yes, there were talks between myself and representatives, and we got a very good feeling that there was a possibility that the player would want to join us.

“But, once we’d delved into the situation and looked at it from a legal point of view, we very quickly saw that it actually couldn’t happen. It was impossible. So, that was discarded once we saw that.”

Messi saw a move to England mooted again during the summer of 2020, as he aired a desire to leave Barcelona, but the likes of Manchester City were ultimately left empty-handed as the 33-year-old revealed to Goal that he will be honouring the final year of his current contract.