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Lionel Messi Was "Tempted" By Arsenal Move, Claims His Former Agent

Lionel Messi Was "Tempted" By Arsenal Move, Claims His Former Agent

Lionel Messi's former agent says the five-time Ballon d'Or winner was "tempted" by a move to the Premier League.

In a recent interview, Fabian Soldini recalled the day when Arsenal had just secured the services of 16-year-old midfielder Cesc Fabregas from the Catalan giants in 2003.

Fabregas, who later became Arsenal's youngest-ever first team player, aged 16 years and 177 days, went on make 350 appearances under Arsene Wenger, lifting numerous trophies in that time.

Things, however, could have been so different if the North London club had managed to snap up another young talent from La Masia.

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Image: PA
Image: PA

After the club had completed the signing of Fabregas, Arsene Wenger's side also expressed their interest in another young talented from the Camp Nou.

And it turns out he was "tempted" by the move.

"[Messi] was tempted to go to Arsenal, but he didn't go," Soldini said via Spanish publication Marca.

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

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Messi, of course, progressed through the ranks and was fast-tracked into the first-team in November 2003, when he starred against Jose Mourinho's Porto side aged 16 years, four months and 23 days old,

Barcelona legend Xavi recalled being "blown away" by the 16-year-old Messi during his first training session.

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"They'd already told me about this kid, I'd been warned that there was this young Argentinian kid coming through who was very good," Xavi told AS.

Image: PA
Image: PA

"They'd even mentioned his name but I'd forgotten," he continued.

"But then, when I saw him in training aged just 16 I could see exactly what they were on about. There was a training drill we used to do in which players are one-on-one against [Lilian] Thuram, and [Carles] Puyol."

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"I saw Messi take on those two and couldn't believe my eyes. I thought: 'Blimey, here this kid who's only 16 years old, dodging past professional defenders, internationals. Even then you could tell that he was different. It's obvious that he has an innate talent when he is one-against-one, he's fast, he scores goals, he passes, shoots. He's amazing."

Topics: Football News, Football, Transfers, Messi, Lionel Messi, Premier League, Arsenal

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Jack Kenmare

Jack Kenmare is a writer at SPORTbible. He's interviewed some of the biggest names in sport, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Pele, Carles Puyol and Tim Henman. He dabbles in all things sport but football is his biggest passion. He was once hit in the head by a wayward strike from Nicky Butt and lived to tell the tale.