Lionel Messi transfer was ‘impossible’, while Jude Bellingham was ‘too expensive’ for Arsenal, says ex-scout, as he explains how the Gunners missed out on superstar signings
Arsenal have missed out on some of the best transfers in the past, but Lionel Messi and Jude Bellingham could be the two biggest.
The Gunners have seen huge talent come through the doors over the years, but among the many success stories there are some stars who have escaped.
Legendary manager Arsene Wenger had a number of top players within his reach, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but as we all know, those deals never happened.
And former scout Francis Cagigao gave his own account of things, revealing how close Arsenal were to signing Messi and Bellingham.
Now sporting director of Chile, the 54-year-old told AS: “I saw [Bellingham] for the first time at the age of 16.
“I wanted to sign him for Arsenal, but he was already too expensive.”
At 16, Bellingham was already a first-team regular at Birmingham and had courted interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Eventually, Borussia Dortmund snapped up the Englishman for £25m after his 17th birthday, beating Manchester United to his signature.
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Since then, Bellingham have become one of the most sought-after players in the transfer window and the Bundesliga club may have no choice but to sell this summer.
A list of top teams would be interested, including Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.
But his price could be even higher than what Chelsea forked out for Enzo Fernandez in the January transfer window worth £106.8m, which would make Bellingham the most expensive British player in the world. all the time.
Where the 19-year-old will end up remains to be seen, but Arsenal do not appear to be in the running, as they were three years ago.
Another player some fans may have heard of is called Messi and though he could have donned Arsenal’s red and white if Cagigao had made it in 2003 when the striker was 16.
“Messi’s situation was unregulated and it was impossible for him to have a work permit in the UK,” he added.
“We had several meetings with Horacio Gaggioli, his representative at the time, but it was impossible.
“The Gerard Pique deal was not done due to a somewhat complex bureaucratic problem.
“In the end, we signed Cesc Fabregas from this great Barca cadet team.”
Pique was in a similar situation but ended up signing for Manchester United in 2004 before returning to Barcelona four years later and forging a stellar career.
Messi has since become one of the greatest players of all time, winning seven Ballon d’Ors as well as the World Cup, Copa America, ten LaLiga titles, four Champions League trophies and a Ligue 1 title. .
Whether the Argentine would have replicated that success at Arsenal will never be known as the 35-year-old’s career is nearing its end.
But under Mikel Arteta the Gunners are heading in the right direction and currently sit atop the Premier League while the summer window will bring more close call stories and transfer sagas.
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