Arsenal have been reported as making an attempt to sign Lionel Messi in a new book by Guillem Balague.
The Gunners are said to have tried tried to lure Spanish centre-half Gerard Piqué and Messi from the Barca academy during the 2002-03 season.
In the book – “Messi” – Balague says Arsenal representative Francis Cagigao met with one of the Argentine’s agents, leading to an offer being passed to Messi’s father, Jorge.
However, Messi decided to stay where he was , and Piqué eventually joined Manchester United before sealing a return to Barcelona in 2008. Fàbregas would rejoin his boyhood club eight years later.
Balague explained to The Sport Review : “They (Barca) didn’t feel it [a move to Arsenal] was right because it would have meant a lot of bureaucracy again and starting over.
“Barcelona, more or less, started to protect him. But Arsenal tried.”
He added: “Real Madrid felt at some point that they could have taken him, Inter Milan felt they had a chance… there were moments when it could have happened differently. “
Balague added that the upheaval of switching to the English capital could have been too big a hurdle for Messi to overcome.
“He didn’t need that [a move to Arsenal]; a new language and a new culture,” he said.
‘Messi’ by Guillem Balague is available from Orion Books, priced £20 / eBook £10.99