Lionel Messi was interested in Arsenal switch

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Lionel Messi was interested in a potential transfer to Arsenal prior to signing a contract extension at Barcelona in May, surprising new speculation suggests.

According to reports from Spain cited by Metro, Argentine superstar Messi - who suffered the heartbreak of a World Cup final defeat in Brazil earlier this month - gave strong consideration to a possible switch to North London and even went as far as to instruct his agent to discuss with Arsenal whether such a move would be feasible.

Presumably that is as far as it went, however, with the 27-year-old having agreed to an improved contract to remain at the Camp Nou following Barcelona's failure to secure the 2013/14 La Liga title after a final-day draw with eventual champions Atletico Madrid.

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Barcelona struggles

Given the success Messi has achieved during his ten-year stint in Barcelona's first-team, it is bizarre to think that he may have desired to ply his trade with a club who, until their FA Cup success last season, had been without a trophy since 2005.

However, it is important to remember that Barcelona themselves were exposed to a lot of criticism last season, with that aforementioned league failure - along with a defeat to fierce rivals Real Madrid in the final of the Copa del Rey and a premature exit from the Champions League - leading to the eventual departure of manager Gerardo Martino.

Luis Enrique's arrival as the club's new boss appears to have signalled a new era for the Catalan giants, however, with the signing of Luis Suarez earlier this month acting as a real statement of intent in the transfer market.

Watch: The latest Arsenal transfer news

Why Arsenal?

So if we are to truly believe that Messi was open to leaving Barcelona, the question remains - why Arsenal?

Despite a lack of success in terms of silverware in recent years, the Gunners have remained largely respected due to their fluid and aesthetically-pleasing approach to the game under the guidance of Arsene Wenger.

Such a factor would have presumably been most crucial in Messi's thinking, as well as the opportunity to test himself in another of the world's top leagues having spent his entire senior career to date in Spain.

However, while this supposed interest would surely have been reciprocated by Arsenal given Messi's enduring status as the best footballer on the planet, is surely has to be considered highly unlikely that Arsenal would have been able to afford the player's staggering £250 million buyout clause.

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Lionel Messi
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