The Gunners were interested in the Argentine while he was in Barca’s La Masia academy, but a move never materialised due to work permit issues.
Fellow academy star Fabregas, however, did end up making the move to Arsenal and enjoyed a successful eight-year spell at the club, before eventually switching back to the Catalan giants in 2011.
Messi’s former representative during his youth days, Soldini, admitted that the winger considered a transfer to north London.
‘[Messi] was tempted to go to Arsenal, but he didn’t go,’ he told Marca.
‘I remember the day that Cesc asked to leave. Messi was also asked to go, but he didn’t want to leave.’
‘I think Arsene stated while manager that we were close to signing Messi [in 2003]. I wouldn’t go as far as saying we were close,’ he told BBC Sport.
‘We were there or thereabouts and discussions took place with his representatives. He had issues with a work permit, so that was discarded.’