Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger opened up on the time he pursued moves for a young Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
During his 22-year spell at Arsenal, Wenger was always good at spotting a bright young talent. So, pursuing the likes of coming talented youngsters like Ronaldo and Messi was nothing new to him.
The Frenchman would sign players pretty much unheard of before, and convert them into first-team regulars in north London.
The most prominent examples were Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Cesc Fabregas, Robert Pires and Kolo Toure.
Therefore, Wenger was unsurprisingly in the hunt to sign then-teenage stars Ronaldo and Messi. The duo were beginning to get noticed for their brilliant progress at both Sporting Lisbon and Barcelona respectively.
Ronaldo even confessed last month that he “was about to go to Arsenal” before Sir Alex Ferguson intervened and signed him up for Manchester United instead.
And now Wenger has confirmed his attempts to sign the five-time Ballon d’Or winner in the early 2000s.
“Yes, you have to live with regret in life with unachieved business,” he told beIN SPORTS.
“And this is a big part of it.”
The Frenchman, meanwhile, tried his best to tempt Barcelona into selling La Masia graduate Messi. Rumours even broke out in the English press claiming he had given the youngster an Arsenal jersey.
Gerard Pique was also on Wenger’s radar along with Fabregas. However, Arsenal could sign the latter as Pique ended up at United and there was no way Barcelona would part with Messi.
When asked if he gave Messi an Arsenal shirt, Wenger replied: “Never.
“We were in discussion with him when we bought Fabregas.
“You can realise sometimes what fantastic youth teams you had before when you’re a club like Barcelona.
“But in the same team: Messi, Pique and Fabregas.
“Pique and Fabregas came to Spain, Messi came to England and Messi stayed in Spain.
“We were interested in him, yes. But he was untouchable at the time.”