Arsenal transfer news: Arsene Wenger tried to sign Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique when he raided Barcelona for Cesc Fabregas

Wenger attempted to persuade the Argentinian to join the Gunners in 2003 but a difficulties with his work permit scuppered any chance of a transfer

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Had it all worked out differently, Lionel Messi and Cesc Fabregas would both be playing for Arsenal, the Gunners would have had a reliable world class centre-back and Arsene Wenger would be the most successful manager in the last decade after winning every trophy available.

As it stands though, Arsenal ended their nine-year wait for a trophy with last season’s FA Cup victory, Messi is one of the best players in the world with Barcelona and Fabregas is primed and ready to haunt the Gunners when he walks out in a Chelsea shirt against Arsenal on Sunday. And all of this because of a work permit.

According to the Daily Mail, Wenger attempted to sign Messi and Gerard Pique along with Fabregas in 2003. While the Spanish midfielder, who was just 16 years old at the time, completed a move to Highbury, Pique and Messi did not follow, and they have since forged hugely successful careers with Barcelona that includes numerous Spanish league titles and Champions League triumphs. It’s even claimed that Messi was ready and willing to move to Arsenal, only for the transfer to be called off after significant issues with the Argentinian’s work permit that would allow him to play in England.


He managed to gain Spanish citizenship three years later in 2006, but by that time he had already showed the Catalan club enough for them to realise he was going to be one of the greatest players to have graced the sport. As for Arsenal fans, they enjoyed 10 years of the likes of Nicklas Bendtner.

Cesc-Fabregas.jpgFabregas went on to establish himself as one of the most impactful and skilled midfielders in the world, captaining the Gunners after the departure of Thierry Henry before returning to Barcelona in 2011. Despite his triumphant homecoming, Fabregas never really flourished during his second spell with Barcelona, and he was allowed to join Chelsea in the summer for £30m.

Gerard Pique spent four years with Manchester United before returning home

Pique did follow Fabregas out of the Barcelona exit as he joined Manchester United a year later in 2004, but after just 12 appearances and a loan spell with Real Zaragoza during his four-year stay at Old Trafford, he returned to Catalonia to begin his incredible career that also saw him become a lynchpin of the all-conquering Span side that won the 2010 World Cup and the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.