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Ex-Arsenal scout Cagigao delivers truth on Messi attempt

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Former Arsenal talent-spotter Francis Cagigao has played down claims of the club being close to signing Barcelona star Lionel Messi as a teen.

The tale of how close former manager Arsene Wenger once came to tempting a young Messi to the club is one that has often been told by Gunners supporters, with the Argentinean talent one of three young stars at the Catalan club that the Gunners were looking at back in 2003.

But according to Cagigao, the move for Messi was something of a non-starter.

"I think Arsene stated while manager that we were close to signing Messi," the Gunners' former head of recruitment - who left the club this summer - told BBC Sport.

"It's public knowledge that Pique came inches away from signing a contract with us and signed for Manchester United six months later," he added.

Cagigao also opened up on the near miss the club had with Barca defender Gerard Pique, who could have made the move if it wasn't for an issue with his contract.

"The only thing I can say is there was some contractual disagreement between the club and Gerard's representatives at the time and it didn't go forward because of those."
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