The four-time Ballon d’Or winner, considered by some as the greatest footballer of all time, was wanted by Arsene Wenger back in 2004.
Wenger managed to secure the services of Messi’s former teammate Cesc Fabregas, while Gerard Pique - another La Masia product - joined Manchester United, but Messi stayed put at the Camp Nou.
It proved to be an inspired decision by both Messi and FC Barcelona, who have enjoyed the most successful period in their history over the past ten years thanks largely to the contributions of their star player.
The Argentina international became Barcelona’s all-time top scorer in March 2014 - at the age of 26 - and managed to take his tally to over 400 career goals earlier this season.
Messi: Things would have been different
Asked what sort of player he would have become in the Premier League, Messi told Shortlist: “It is hard to say, because my education would have been very different to what I have had at Barcelona, but the Premier League is obviously one of the best and most competitive in Europe.”
Some people feel Cristiano Ronaldo has the edge over Messi because he has proved himself in both La Liga and the Premier League.
But Messi, having performed heroics for Barcelona in both La Liga and the Champions League, has nothing to prove to anyone.
He will end his career, regardless of what he achieves between now and the day he retires, ranked alongside the greatest players in history - the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona, Alfredo di Stefano, Johan Cruyff and so on.
But whether Messi is or isn’t the greatest player of all time is merely subjective - there’s no quantifiable way of saying for sure. The same applies to Pele, Maradona and the like.
Messi would not have been as successful at Arsenal
However, it’s fair to assume Messi’s career may not have panned out in the same way had he joined Arsenal.
Messi suits Barcelona and Barcelona suit Messi. Without players such as Xavi and Andres Iniesta around him, it’s unlikely he would have won the 24 trophies he has.
Arsenal, meanwhile, have won two trophies - the FA Cup, twice - in the last 10 years. Would things have been radically different with Messi in the side? That question, unfortunately, will always remain unanswered.
Arsenal fans: how many Premier League titles would your side have won by now had Lionel Messi joined in 2004? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!
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