Lionel Messi almost became a Gooner instead of joining Barcelona when he was just 16.
In 2003 Arsene Wenger had his eye on three future Nou Camp stars, with the intention of handing them first-team football in their teens. Messi, Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas were all on the French manager's radar.
Remarkably, a deal was almost struck with Messi, who was interested in a move to Highbury but the transfer failed to materialise due to problem's with the Argentine's work permit.
Since their failed attempt at signing arguably the greatest player of all time, Arsenal have won three trophies (one Premier League and two FA Cups). In contrast, Messi has won... a lot more accolades for Barcelona. (six La Ligas, three Champions Leagues, two Spanish Cups and two World Cups) He has also won the Ballon d'Or an incredible four times.
Interesting to note that if Arsenal had signed Messi at the time, he might have played a role in the famous invincibles side that went the full 2003-04 season unbeaten. I'm well aware that it's impossible to improve on invincibility, but imagine a strikeforce of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp and Lionel Messi. Scary thought.
Hat tip: Daily Mail