This team Wenger almost signed would beat anyone

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WATCH | Wenger admits he almost signed Ronaldo AND Messi

In a beIN SPORTS exclusive, Arsene Wenger revealed he tried to sign Lionel Messi and Cristinao Ronaldo, and they’re not the only mega stars the former Arsenal boss tried, and failed to bring to North London.

This starting XI would undoubtedly have gone down as the greatest team in history.

Wenger boys

GK - Gianluigi Buffon

Arsene Wenger was looking for a long-term replacement for David Seaman, which prompted a lunch with Gianluigi Buffon while the Italy great was playing for Parma in 1998.

Talks stalled and Juventus swooped in with an offer he couldn’t refuse in 2001, and Buffon went on to win nine league titles with the Old Lady.

RCB – Gerard Pique

When Arsenal signed Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona in 2013, Wenger revealed to beIN SPORTS he tried to sign Spanish defender Gerard Pique as well.

Pique signed for Manchester United instead, before returning to the Camp Nou and establishing himself as one of the best defenders in world football.

CB – Vincent Kompany

Vincent Kompany’s agent Jacques Lichtenstein confirmed Wenger tried to sign the Belgian star while he was playing for Anderlecht.

''Wenger made it clear that he wanted to sign Kompany to replace Sol Campbell, if he would leave the English giants,'' he told Het Laatste Nieuws.

Kompany eventually signed for Hamburg, before joining Manchester City where he led the Blues to four Premier League titles.

The Belgian would have been in great ‘Kompany’ in the star-studded team.

LCB – Raphael Varane

At 26, Raphael Varane has already won just about every major trophy there is to win in football, and Arsene Wenger was left to rue what could have been in an interview with Eurosport in 2013.

“When you are in charge of a club like Arsenal, you have to wonder why this player is not playing for us. He was at Lens, and we might well have caught him there,” Wenger said.

CDM – Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure almost linked up with big brother Kolo at Arsenal in 2003. The former Barcelona star made one appearance for the Gunners, in a friendly against Barnet FC.


The deal fell through in the end, with Arsene Wenger citing work permit issues and a lack of proven pedigree (at the time) in the four-time African footballer of the Year.

 “He had no work permit and was too young. We tried to wait until when he was in Belgium, we tried to get him a European passport. He was not patient enough and left,” Wenger said.

RM – Ronaldinho

The pesky work permit issue strike Wenger again! This time it was Brazil legend Ronaldinho, who Wenger tried to sign in 2001.

“We could have got Ronaldinho before he went to PSG,' Wenger said. 'I met his brother, who is his agent, a long, long time before he went to PSG - when he was 20 - but we just could not get him to England because of the rules here.”

LM - Gareth Bale

Arsene Wenger had his choice of the spoils from Southampton’s sensational youth academy in 2006, with Garteth Bale and Theo Walcott both up for sale.

Wenger chose Walcott, who failed to live up to the hype at the Emirates, while Gareth Bale signed for Spurs before becoming the world’s most-expseive player when he signed for Real Madrid for €100 million 2013.

CAM – Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard’s agent was invited to Wenger’s home to thrash out a move to the Gunners, before Chelsea swooped in with a £32 million for the Belgian playmaker.

'Yes, I wanted to take him, Wenger said. “I had his agent at my home but again the barrier was financial and Chelsea made an effort that I couldn't make.”

LW – Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo confirmed he was “very close” to joining Arsenal, before a man-of-the-match performance in a friendly against Manchester United caught Sir Alex Ferguson’s attention.

Wenger agreed a £4million pound transfer fee with Sporting CP and even sent the winger a ‘Ronaldo 9’ Arsenal jersey, but like many of the other stars on this list Ronaldo slipped through Wenger’s grasp at the last minute.

RW – Lionel Messi

When Wenger signed Cesc Fabregas in 2003, he also had his eye on Gerard Pique and a diminutive playmaker named Leo Messi.

Even as a teenager, there was no denying Messi’s extraterrestrial talent and Barcelona was determined to keep its superstar. Thankfully, Barca held form with Messi now widely regarded as the greatest footballer of all-time.

ST – Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has never been short of self-belief, and that unwavering confidence denied Arsene Wenger the chance of signing the Swedish superstar.

He [Arsene Wenger] never actually made me a serious offer, it was more, "I want to see how good you are, what kind of player you are. Have a trial". I couldn't believe it. I was like, "No way, Zlatan doesn't do auditions"

In hindsight, perhaps Wenger should have just given him the part.