Arsene Wenger has lifted the lid on exactly how close he came to bringing Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to Arsenal, admitting: “You live with regrets in your life.”
The former Arsenal manager is infamous for revealing the key names the Gunners missed out on during his time in charge, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Suarez, Dele Alli, N’Golo Kante, Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure among the big names to have slipped the net.
Wenger has been quite outspoken this week, having first been critical of Mohamed Salah for being too selfish in front of goal, and then naming the Gunners as the side most capable of challenging Liverpool and Man City for the Premier League title.
However, Wenger may have outdone even himself this time after coming clean on long-standing rumours that he came close to signing Ronaldo – something the player himself has admitted to – and Messi during his time in charge of the north London giants.
Asked if he ever tried to sign Messi, Wenger told beIN SPORTS: “We were in discussions with him when we bought [Cesc] 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.”
Asked exactly how close the Gunners came to landing Ronaldo, he added: “Yes, you have to live with regrets in life, you know. There’s only unachieved business in life and this is a big part of it.”
Asked which of the pair he most would have loved to have worked with, the Frenchman offered a diplomatic response.
“I would say that they are so good that it’s difficult to choose – in 10 footballers of the year, it’s five and five, so that shows they are really on the same level,” Wenger added. “Artistically, Messi is as well a guy who can give the final ball, so he’s maybe more a creative player than Ronaldo. Ronaldo is more a finisher, better in the air, more athletic, and Messi is the more artistic. So basically you are always tempted a little bit more by a player like Messi.”
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