Former Arsenal scout discusses how the Gunners missed out on two Barcelona legends

Francis Cagigao has just been sacked at Arsenal, his exit is one of the more painful ones that has happened at the club this summer because of the impact he had at the club.

In close to three decades at the north London side, he helped to unearth the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin.

He was so highly-regarded by Arsene Wenger that the Frenchman almost always trusted his recommendations.

After Wenger left the club, the Gunners decided to move in another direction in terms of recruitment and when this pandemic struck, they had the perfect excuse to disassemble their scouting network headed by Cagigao.

The scout is now looking forward to new opportunities and he discussed his time at Arsenal recently.

One of the things he talked about was how close Arsenal was to signing both Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique from Barcelona.

Both players would go on to become legends at the Spanish side, but they might have been Arsenal players instead.

Speaking exclusively to European Football expert Guillem Balague on his YouTube channel, Cagiago said:

‘Arsene has said that at one stage we were close to signing Leo Messi and although I wouldn’t go so far as to say we were close, we were there or thereabouts.  

‘Discussions took place with his representative, but he had an issue with his work permit which at the time wasn’t even clear in Spain where he was, so that was discarded.

‘It’s public knowledge that Gerard Pique was inches away from signing a contract with us, but he joined Manchester United six months later. 

‘There was some contractual disagreement between the club and Gerard’s representatives, and it didn’t go forward because of that.’

Tags Francis Cagigao


  1. Old news yawn zzzzzzz it’s well known we missed out on lots of players who became big names, the past is meant to be left in the past, no regrets Arsenal

  2. It’s very revealing how, over time, the words and claims of Arsene Wenger are being confirmed by others.

    I remember so clearly, how the media mocked him (along with a section of our fans I’m sorry to say) when he said that Messi, amongst other w/c players had been close to signing for us….Mbappe being another one!!!

    As time goes by, even more clarification of what AW said, will be verified and I hope he addresses some of the issues in his upcoming autobiography.

    For those who say it doesn’t matter, this is part of our history… along with the mistakes he made…I add this, so that the negatives are covered, before they start coming in.

    No wonder Mikel Arteta speaks of him in glowing terms and remember, he played for the great man in the so called “barren years!”
    Merci Arsene and Gracias Mikel.

  3. I’m sure there have been many that slipped through the net but then, that’s football!

    AW brought some of the best players to Highbury. Some who were not star material until AW himself made them so. It was Barca who wanted our players more than we wanted theirs believe it or nor! 🙂

    Scouting has changed I’m sure and the way Arsenal as a club are looking for new tallent has changed too. Let’s hope we have the resources to find the gems still?!

    1. Absolutely agree with you GunneRay, it seems they are still at it, looking at Bellerin now!!

      It’s not only the resources (money) though, it is also the pull of the club and its values.
      That’s where Dein and Wenger were so brilliant and I’m hoping Arteta and Edu form the same kind of partnership – the signs do seem promising I believe.

  4. Ultimately, it’s signing them that counts. Could have, may have, nearly but didn’t

    Let’s see if our current targets fall into that category

    1. SueP, three good points, but when we learn, officially, who the club were/are looking at, it shows the ambition and forward thinking that was/ is going on.

      As we are not a city or chelsea, who can go out and buy ready made stars, we need to be proactive in what we do and the likes of a young Messi or Mbappe shows Dein and Wenger, were doing just that.
      Likewise, Edu and Arteta, with Martinelli as a perfect example, are doing the same, along with introducing great young talent like Saka.

      As for our current targets, it seems that Partey and Aouar are on their list…If we don’t get over the line with them, at least the fan base knows what they are trying to achieve – just as we are now finding out with AW.
      Unfortunately, his words were not believed by some and, in fact, were ridiculed – just let’s hope these revelations balance what actually occurred and throws light on what was the truth.

      1. Ken
        Ambition should and must be part of the Arsenal culture. There was nothing wrong with aiming high
        I can only hope like Dein and Wenger that Arteta and Edu get some over the line … pronto!!

  5. Messi moved to Barcelona as a 13 years old boy with his dad who managed to get a job in Spain through Barca,i was wondering would it have been possible for him to move to the UK even with his dad back in 2000??

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