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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Arsene Wenger reveals Arsenal tried to sign Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi

Wenger says club held talks with Ronaldo and his representatives before a move to Manchester United while Barcelona refused to budge on Messi

Arsene Wenger has revealed he tried to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, right, and Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, during his 22-year reign as Arsenal manager. Josep Lago / AFP
Arsene Wenger has revealed he tried to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, right, and Barcelona's Lionel Messi, left, during his 22-year reign as Arsenal manager. Josep Lago / AFP

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi could have ended up playing together at Arsenal had things worked out differently.

Arsene Wenger, whose 22-year managerial reign came to a close at the end of the season, has revealed how he tried to sign both superstars for the Gunners.

Instead Ronaldo went to Manchester United before going on to Real Madrid, while Wenger was unable to prise Messi from Barcelona.

The Frenchman told Arsenal.com: "The obvious player [Arsenal missed out on] that comes to mind is Ronaldo.

"He was here with his mother and we were very close. Then Man United came in and they had Carlos Queiroz at the time, who was their coach. United played against Sporting Lisbon and Ronaldo was outstanding and they signed him.

"There is always something you could have done differently, but the problem of negotiations is to know when you give in and when you don't give in.

"Once we were at £4.5 million, we were still in negotiations. David [Dein] met with [agent Jorge] Mendes in Paris and he was representing Sporting, so we were very close. But Man United went to £12 million, which we could not afford at the time.

"I met Cesc's [Fabregas] parents and at the time we were interested in Messi and [Gerard] Pique as well. We tried for the three but of course it didn't work out ... because of the agents.

"With Messi, Barcelona didn't want to lose him of course and they made [the offer] that was needed to keep the player at the club."

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Read more:

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Richard Jolly: Post-Arsene Wenger Arsenal interested in signing Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly

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