Barcelona man demanded a London flat…
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Respected Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague has announced in his book, serialised in the Times, the reason Arsenal failed to sign Lionel Messi when he was a teenager.
When Messi was a youngster at Barcelona, many European clubs were naturally interested in his services; Arsenal included.
Then scout Francis Cagigao watched him play in a youth tournament in Spain, and immediately tried to convince the Gunners to secure his services.
Arsenal made a proposition to the player, who they were legally allowed to contact because he was under the age of 16, but Messi and his advisors turned Arsenal down because they were not offered a flat or a house.
“The Messis listened to what Arsenal had to say but they were not about to have their heads turned. Obstacles were apparent in any potential agreement. The English club could not offer a flat for the family, and there would be difficulty obtaining a work permit. Bit by bit points of mutual interest evaporated until the offer lay dead in the water.”
Of course, the rest is history.
Messi stayed at Barcelona and has since won countless trophies, and won the Ballon d’Or award on four separate occasions – more than anyone else in the history of the game.
Since Messi’s first Barcelona trophy, Arsenal have won just the one FA Cup, while the little Argentine has amassed 21 major tournament wins with the Catalans.