Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has hailed Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster and was surprised the England international didn’t end up signing for Manchester United, Chelsea or Arsenal after leaving Celtic last summer.
Forster produced the best performance from a goalkeeper Messi has ever seen during a Champions League clash between Celtic and Barcelona in November 2012 - and the four-time Ballon d’Or winner admits he and his teammates discussed the idea of the 6ft 7in shot-stopper potentially replacing Victor Valdes at the Camp Nou.
Messi was subsequently surprised that Forster was not snapped up one of the Premier League’s so-called big clubs last summer.
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Messi hails Fraser Forster
“The performances of Fraser Forster against us were talked about for a long time. There was one game in Scotland where he was not human, it is the best goalkeeping performance I have seen,” Messi was quoted as saying by the Mirror.
“When Victor Valdes said he was leaving we even talked about him playing here. I was sure he would end up at Arsenal, Chelsea, or Manchester United."
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Messi also praises Joe Hart
Messi also reserved praise for Forster’s international teammate Joe Hart, who made a series of stunning saves against Messi and co. during Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Camp Nou last month.
"Joe Hart had an absolutely fantastic game,” Messi admitted. “I already knew he was a top keeper but it was impressive in this performance how he just stopped everything that came his way, with either his hands or his body – he is a phenomenon."
Should Arsenal have signed Forster?
Forster, who finds himself behind Hart in the England pecking order, has enjoyed a fine debut season for the Saints, who boast the best defensive record in the Premier League this term.
Still only 27, but currently recovering having recently undergone knee surgery, the former Newcastle United ‘keeper has the potential to blossom into one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers.
There is a perfectly reasonable explanation why neither United or Chelsea went in for Forster last summer - both clubs already possess world-class players for that specific position.
United have David de Gea in their ranks - for the time being, at least - while Chelsea have the luxury of being able to choose between Thibaut Courtois and Petr Cech.
Arsenal, however, might regret their decision not to pursue Forster’s signature.
Arsene Wenger is currently on the hunt for a new first-choice goalkeeper to replace Wojciech Szczesny and David Ospina - and Forster could have been the ideal solution.
Is Fraser Forster good enough to be playing for a top-four club? Have your say in the comments below!