Arsenal agreed a deal to sign Gerard Pique from Barcelona

Arsenal held talks with Pique and Messi. (©GettyImages)

Guillem Balague has revealed just how close Arsenal came to signing both Gerard Pique and Lionel Messi in what would have been a sensational triple deal in his new book 'Messi'.

Cesc Fabregas ended up making the move to north London, later becoming the club's second youngest captain ever before returning to Barcelona in a £35 million deal. Now at Chelsea, he is considered one of the top creative midfielders in the world.

Had he stayed at Arsenal beyond 2011, the Gunners would likely boast a wider array of silverware than they currently have. If Arsene Wenger had completed a deal for all three of his young Barcelona targets, they may well have had a team capable of making history.

Secret Spanish scouting mission 

Wenger's Spanish scout Francis Cagigao was well aware of the Fabregas, Pique and Messi way back in 2002 and attended a youth tournament where they were playing for the Barcelona Cadete A side.

Cagigao searched far and wide for Messi's agent Horacio Gaggioli and had no hesitation in offering the youngster the chance to fast-track his path to first team football at Arsenal.

"The English club could not offer a flat for the family, and there would be difficulty obtaining a work permit."

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Negotiations with Messi's agent

"That night Francis had dinner with the agent and expressed an interest in Messi, an interest that culminated in an offer being passed to the boy's father, Jorge," Balague wrote.

"From that moment the lines of communication between Arsenal and the Messis were open. Cesc and Pique were also targets.

"Cagigao was one of the few, indeed, probably the only, European club scouts at these tournaments, so the offer from Arsenal was Leo's first from a foreign club since he had arrived at Barcelona.

"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. But they left Jorge with a message: 'Any time you encounter problems, remember, our club wants him.'

Agreed deal

But Arsenal's move for Messi is not the most interesting point about this potential triple swoop of dreams. It appears that Arsenal had already agreed a deal with Pique only for the player's agent to pull the plug on a deal.

While Fabregas had no problem waiting until he was 16-years-old to confirm the move to Arsenal, Pique's agent was not willing to wait. Instead, they cancelled the deal and later Pique made the move to Manchester United.

He later returned to Barcelona but is now strongly linked with a return to the Premier League. Chelsea, Manchester City and United are thought to be interested in the now-vastly experienced centre-back.

Luis Enrique has done little to downplay speculation by dropping Pique and later humiliating him by forcing him to warm up on the touchline despite having used all three of his substitutes.

Despite Wenger's need for a defender, Arsenal have not been linked with Pique. Maybe his £24 million price tag has put the Frenchman off.

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