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Former scout reveals Arsenal were “very, very close” to signing Lionel Messi

Former Arsenal scout Francis Cagigao has claimed that the likes of Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique and Juan Mata were very close to signing for the London club when they were youth players.

The Londoners tried to sign Lionel Messi when he was 15 years old and he was playing for the Barcelona academy.

However, work permit issues led to the collapse of the move eventually.

Cagigao revealed to Guardian: “Messi, [Gerard] Piqué, [Juan] Mata were very, very close and there were others. With Messi, work permit issues ensured we couldn’t get as close as we would have liked.”

The former Arsenal man helped the Gunners sign top class talents like Cesc Fabregas, Hector Bellerin, Robin van Persie and Gabriel Martinelli.

Cagigao was integral to Arsene Wenger’s set up at Arsenal and he helped the Gunners put together a talented young squad.

Arsenal signed several technically gifted players for very reasonable fees when Wenger was in charge and Cagigao did a brilliant job to identify those talents before they became established stars.

Cagigao went on to become Arsenal’s head of recruitment and he left the club this year in August when the Premier League giants announced that they were letting 55 staff members leave so that the money could be invested into signing new players.

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