Lionel Messi’s former entourage, Fabian Soldini, has revealed the Barcelona legend was ‘tempted’ to follow midfielder Cesc Fabregas in moving to Arsenal back in 2003.
The Gunners were keen on the Argentine while he was in Barca’s La Masia academy, but a transfer never materialised due to work permit issues.
Fellow academy star Cesc, however, did end up making the switch to Arsenal and enjoyed a successful eight-year stint at the club, before eventually switching back to the Catalan heavyweights in 2011.
Messi’s former agent during his youth days, Soldini, admitted that the attacker considered a transfer to north London.
‘[Messi] was tempted to go to Arsenal, but he didn’t go,’ Fabian told Marca. ‘I remember the day that Cesc asked to leave. Messi was also asked to go, but he didn’t want to leave.’
Ex-Gunners head coach Arsene Wenger has claimed Arsenal were ‘close’ to landing Messi, but in a recent interview with BBC Sport, former scout Francis Cagigao revealed that while Wenger’s claims may have been slightly overblown, negotiations between the two sides did in fact take place.
‘I think Arsene stated while manager that we were close to signing Messi [in 2003]. I wouldn’t go as far as saying we were close,’ Francis told BBC Sport.
‘We were there or thereabouts and discussions took place with his representatives. He had issues with a work permit, so that was discarded.’
In the meantime, Arsenal management are yet to receive an official transfer request from the French ace Matteo Guendouzi, the Evening Standard says.
Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi hasn’t handed in a transfer request at the Emirates, as speculation over his future continues.
He has fallen out of favour under manager Mikel Arteta and has not featured since the 2-1 defeat at Brighton there months ago.
Recent reports suggest that the Frenchman has handed in a formal request to leave the club, but Standard Sport understands that is not the case.
Prior to the new campaign, Arteta suggested all of his players had a new chance to force their way into his senior team plans, but the Frenchman has not featured in the matchday rosters for either of the first two matches of the Premier League campaign.
“I have been really clear that everybody starts from zero all the time in football,” said Mikel earlier this month.
“What you did two weeks ago or two years ago doesn’t really matter. It’s what you are able to contribute to the team now. Everybody is going to have the same opportunities.”
Mikel is looking to trim his oversized roster in the final weeks of the transfer window, while also hoping to strengthen his midfield options.
Along with rumours about Matteo’s future, Uruguayan midfielder Lucas Torreira has been heavily mentioned with a return to Serie A, while Atletico Madrid’s Thomas Partey is a key target.
He has also been linked with a move to Torino but a reported transfer is allegedly in doubt as the former Sampdoria ace is no longer considered a primary target by the Serie A side.
Arsenal’s Lucas Torreira is no longer a priority signing for Serie A club Torino, club chief Davide Vagnati told Sky in Italy.
The two sides were discussing a season-long loan for Lucas with an option to make it permanent next year, with the Serie A club paying £22 million over two equal instalments.
Arsenal are open to selling the South American in order to fund a move for other targets and free up space in Mikel Arteta’s roster for other arrivals.
Reports emerging in Spain claimed Atletico Madrid are interested in acquiring services of the 24-year-old.
Arsenal have shown interest in the Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey – who has a £45 million release clause – but have yet to find a breakthrough in talks.
In other news, Arsenal are allegedly prepared to part ways with centre-half Shkodran Mustafi before the end of the summer transfer market.
Before suffering a season-ending injury during the FA Cup semi-final victory over Manchester City, Shkodran had reestablished himself as a first-team player at the club.
However, Gabriel Magalhaes and William Saliba have since linked up with Mikel Arteta’s roster, pushing the Germany international down the pecking order.
According to Laziosiamonoi, SS Lazio are ‘gaining momentum’ in their efforts to land the player for a fee between £10.8m and £13.5m.
Napoli have also been mentioned with an approach for the 28-year-old star, who remains sidelined with a thigh injury.
He has less than a year remaining on his contract at the North London giants.