Lionel Messi’s former agent says the Barcelona legend came close to following Cesc Fabregas to Arsenal back in 2003.

Fabian Soldini says then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger identified Fabregas, Messi and Gerard Pique as potential signings when they were academy prospects.

Wenger succeeded in luring Fabregas to Arsenal, while Pique joined Manchester United, though Messi opted to stay at Barcelona.

But Soldini says Messi was tempted by the prospect of a move to the Emirates, such was the closeness of his friendship with Fabregas,

‘[Messi] was tempted to go to Arsenal, but he didn’t go,’ Soldini told Marca.

‘I remember the day that Cesc asked to leave [Barcelona]. Messi was also asked to go, but he didn’t want to leave.’

Wenger himself revealed last year that he attempted to sign Messi but admitted that the Argentine was ‘untouchable’ at that time.

Wenger told BeIN Sports: ‘We were in discussions with [Messi] when we bought Fabregas, because Messi played [with him].

‘You can realise sometimes what fantastic youth teams you had before when you’re a club like Barcelona. In the same team, Messi, [Gerard] Pique and Fabregas.

‘Pique and Fabregas came to England [with Manchester United and Arsenal respectively], Messi stayed in Spain. We were interested in him, but he was untouchable at the time.’