Guillem Balague has sensationally revealed that Arsenal came close to signing Lionel Messi, at the same time they concluded a deal for former captain Cesc Fabregas, reports the International Business Times.
In an exclusive interview with the publication, the Spanish football expert recalled just how close the north London club came to securing the signature of the greatest player on the planet.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger held extensive talks with the four-time FIFA Ballon d'Or winner when he was a teenager, in an attempt to lure the Argentine international from Camp Nou to the Emirates Stadium.
"Messi could have signed for Arsenal in the past," said Balague. "He was in talks with them when they signed Cesc Fabregas.
"There was contact but Barcelona convinced [Messi] to stay. Anyway Arsenal told Messi that if anytime he had problems at Barcelona they would be interested in him."
The 26-year-old has been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League in recent months, with the Daily Star suggesting last week that Manchester United tried to sign him during the summer.
However, Balague believes that Messi will never move to England, adding that if the South American star is ever to leave Barcelona, then it will be to return to Argentina.
"If he leaves Barcelona one day it will be to go back to Newell's," he added. "It is not true that he has had some offers recently.
"There has been interest from other clubs but no one has made a bid to Barcelona for him."