Footy Extras

Arsenal also wanted to land key Barcelona duo alongside Fabregas

Arsene Wenger has admitted his former club Arsenal at one point tried to land Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi to compliment their acquisition of the Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabregas.

The Spaniard arrived at the Emirates Stadium in 2003 after coming through Barcelona’s youth set-up and ultimately became a key figure for the north Londoners across several seasons.

After seeing Cesc succeed at Arsenal, the club then apparently turned their attention to two more Catalan graduates.

While Wenger did not detail when the Gunners attempted to bring in Messi and Pique, he did reveal the Gunners had lofty ambitions to line-up with all three at some point.

“We tried, we were not near to signing Messi,” Arsene said on beIN Sports. “But we tried to sign Pique, Fabregas and Messi, of course, we already tried but he was already too big at the time.

“Don’t forget in 2006 when we played the Champions League final against Barcelona, Messi couldn’t play because he was injured…so that’s 13 years ago and he was already a regular player in the first team. What this guy has done is unbelievable.”

Wenger, who confirmed the Gunners were close to signing Cristiano Ronaldo over a decade ago, was also questioned if there was a chance the Juventus star and Lionel could have lined up on the same side.

While confident he could have handled both living legends and their personalities, Wenger admits it was never a real possibility.

“That’s real fantasy football. I would have loved to. I had big personalities in my life, very big personalities. If you can give them what they want they are happy.” the Frenchman said.

Barcelona Star Discusses Philippe Coutinho Transfer, Lionel Messi Contract

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has said Philippe Coutinho is doing his best to leave Liverpool as he desires a move to the Camp Nou.

Pique told Pete Jenson of MailOnline that the Brazil international clearly wants to join the La Liga giants.

“I think players still want to join Barcelona, and they are showing that as is the case with Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele,” he said. “One by putting in a transfer request and the other with his actions at Dortmund. It suggests that they are both delighted about the idea of coming; they want to come.”

Pique also commented on Lionel Messi’s decision to delay signing a new deal with the Blaugrana, telling Jenson:

All players have the right to sign or renew their contracts when they want to. In the end, a renewal is a question for the club and the player. That’s true in all cases, I’m not just talking about Messi.

“When the two sides agree and they find the moment to sign, they sign. We hope it happens as soon as possible.”

Pique added he expects Messi to remain at Barca in the years ahead, saying: “Everyone knows he loves the club more than anyone. People shouldn’t be concerned that he won’t sign.”

Duncan Castles of Yahoo Sports (h/t Metro) reported Coutinho “is considering making a public statement of his discontent,” hoping he can force an exit from Merseyside before the transfer deadline.

“Between Pep and United, I go for the latter” – says fan favourite World-class defender

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has revealed that he would prefer a return-switch to Manchester United over a move to Man City to reunite with Pep Guardiola.

The 29-year-old, ​who has been up to his usual shenanigans on Twitter this week, spent four seasons at Old Trafford earlier in his career, before being swiftly moved on to Barcelona after struggling to break in to Sir Alex Ferguson’s first-team in 2008.

But now, Pique, who is entering his 10th season at Barcelona, has refused to call-off a return to the Red Devils, admitting that Manchester is his ‘second home’.

Speaking to ​Madrid-based newspaper Marca, the Barcelona defender said: “Between Pep and United, I go for the latter.

​“I had some really good years there and I’ve always considered it as a second home.

“I’ll always be more of a Red Devil, although I have to admit that I follow City fondly because there are people there I know, like Txiki [Begiristain, City director of football], who helped me come to Barcelona, and [national] team-mates like [Jesus Navas].

Pique went on to hail new Man City signing John Stones as ‘the best defender in England’, before comparing the 22-year-old’s style of play to his own.

“Stones is a great player, the best central defender England have,” he added.

“I like how he plays [because] it is a style like mine. It is difficult to do well because it is playing a different way.

“Pep is going to help him to take risks with the ball a lot. This is also like poker, in which there are times you have to take risks.

“But being a defender, you have to control that risk. I think he’ll do well.”