Former Arsenal scout Francis Cagigao how revealed how the Gunners almost signed all three of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Juan Mata, during an interview with the Guardian.
Arsenal could certainly be described as a ‘nearly club’ over the past decade, at least on a footballing level, but it looks like that extends even beyond that period – and into the recruitment side of the club.
During an exclusive interview with the Guardian, former Arsenal scout Cagigao revealed that all of Messi, Pique and Mata could all have been playing their football in North London if things had gone differently:
“Messi, [Gerard] Piqué, [Juan] Mata were very, very close and there were others. With Messi, work permit issues ensured we couldn’t get as close as we would have liked.”
Messi speaks for himself. If Arsenal had managed to land the Argentine then Arsene Wenger could have toasted to his Gunners career with far more recent success on his resume, both domestically and on European level.
Can you imagine it? The current profile of the club would be enormously different. Their brand on an international level, their stature in the Premier League. It would have been a wild ride for the Arsenal faithful.
Pique would have been the assured and commanding centre-back that Arsenal have lacked in recent years, while Mata’s creativity from midfield would no doubt have aided them in attack.
There is, ultimately, no point looking into the past in this manner – but it’s nice to speculate about what could have been. Arsenal are on the up under Mikel Arteta, so we’re sure the fans will just be enjoying that.